Sun, Jun 01, 2014 - Page 8 News List

Why China is concerned by Taiwan’s Sunflowers

By Paul Lin 林保華

In the middle of last month, the Hong Kong-based Chinese-language Trend Magazine (動向) featured an article that questioned whether Taiwan will become an Asian version of Crimea and highlighted the problems China faces.

First, cross-strait relations are problematic because talks about economic issues cannot get started and the two sides do not agree on political issues. China has long-term plans for its national security policy, but it has concerns over setting definite plans for cross-strait relations.

Second, China is not worried that the student movement might lead to a revolution in Taiwan, but it is terrified that the nation’s student and civic movements could spark copycat protests in China, which could cause the sudden collapse of its politically inflexible regime. The political anxiety that comes from guarding against internal implosion has greatly weakened China’s ambitions for unification.

Third, when discussing the Sunflower movement, one group in China feels that the “status quo” of no unification, no independence and no use of force is more beneficial to China than unification, while another feels that this policy means de facto independence for Taiwan. The secretariat of the Chinese National Security Commission has issued an order that neither of these opinions can be shared on the Internet, with authorities assigned to finding those who disseminate them.

Fourth, the number of Chinese who approve of Taiwan’s political system by far exceeds the minority elites and this approval has spread among the lower classes of society, especially businesspeople from the lower and middle classes.

Fifth, the authorities in Beijing have not prepared for any policy interaction with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and “green phobia” is prevalent among the highest strata of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Sixth, while China believes everything is negotiable, it is worried that Taiwan’s ruling and opposition parties will agree to negotiate a unification of the political systems rather than stick with the “one country, two systems” ideal.

Seventh, new light tanks and other fast military vehicles that were to be used in mountainous areas after an attack on Taiwan are now mostly in use for other purposes, having been transferred to Xinjiang or Tibet or secretly deployed on the outskirts of large cities for riot suppression.

Eighth, China’s decision to postpone the declaration of an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea was not caused by strong opposition from the Philippines and other countries, but was rather a direct result of strong anti-China sentiment in Taiwan and problems involving cross-strait relations.

Ninth, the biggest potential problem for the CCP is if Taiwan became an Asian version of Crimea by declaring independence and then choosing an advantageous time to join Japan. This is the most basic reason for the clear hatred the highest authorities of the CCP have for Japan. To address this problem, China has strengthened its military deployment against Taiwan and the S-400 missiles from its recently approved purchase from Russia will be aimed at Taiwan.

Now that the DPP has elected Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as party chairperson, she should focus her attention on solving domestic issues as well as on new civic movements. Given that China wants to annex Taiwan, it needs the help of Taiwanese compradors, which is why solving internal problems must be a priority.

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