When Ma said there would be neither unification nor independence, Hu offered Taiwan more advantageous terms, and Xi disagreed with this, which is why he will not follow in Hu’s footsteps, but rather find other approaches.
At the third plenary session, it became clear what practical steps Xi will take after the strategic goals have been set. Organizationally, Taiwan will be elevated to the level of the recently announced National Security Council, and in terms of personnel arrangements, Huang Wentao (黃文濤), the director of the Taiwan Affairs Office’s (TAO) research bureau, has been demoted and will be replaced by Zhou Ning (周寧), director of the TAO’s Bureau of Laws and Regulations.
A reasonable interpretation of these developments would be that the formalization of the particular political arrangement prior to unification in law has been put on the agenda.
There are many things Xi could do to highlight the special political arrangement, such as a peace agreement, ending hostilities, setting up a mechanism to build mutual military trust and even creating a political arrangement prior to unification.
The goal is to make unification Taiwan’s only option while Ma is still in office, and the intent is to tell Taiwanese that China is in no rush to unify, and that it is offering a reasonable arrangement for cross-strait relations, although it is all a matter of different stages that will lead up to unification.
At the same time, Xi’s Taiwan experts are delicately continuing to manipulate forces within Taiwan. Using discussion of a peace agreement as a pretext, they recently managed to attract a group of people from the pan-green camp. In addition, New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), a possible future leader of Taiwan, attended a peace forum organized by former speaker of the now-defunct Taiwan Provincial Assembly Kao Yu-jen (高育仁). For the rest, the Ma administration is trying to bait them with the prospect of a Ma-Xi meeting.
If such a meeting could be held next year, Xi would demand that a communique be issued to trap Taiwan with a written statement, even if such a meeting were to take place at the APEC summit. Xi could use this to show the international community that Taiwan has finally returned to the fold. As unification becomes Taiwan’s only option, China can continue by requesting that the US end its arms sales to Taiwan, in a direct challenge to the Taiwan Relations Act.
A closer analysis of Xi’s Taiwan policy and comparison of this analysis with Ma’s alliance with China shows how closely they match.
Taiwan’s only remaining option is for the legislature and the public to oppose Ma’s dictatorial ways, the total lack of democratic discussion and the complete disregard for procedural justice.
Translated by Perry Svensson