Despite the pro-China Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) defeat in January’s presidential election, Beijing is still hopeful that president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will pledge the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) allegiance to the “one China” principle when she is inaugurated as president on May 20.
During a session of China’s National People’s Congress on March 5, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) reiterated the necessity of the so-called “1992 consensus” for positive cross-strait interactions based on “common political underpinning.”
On the heels of Xi and Li’s comments, Beijing-based All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots president and National People’s Congress member Wang Yifu (汪毅夫) called on the DPP to suspend its “Taiwanese independence” party platform.
However, none of these calls, which are expected from the Chinese, are more awkward or disconcerting than a recent warning from former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起), who admitted in 2000 that he had made up the term “1992 consensus.”
In an article published by the Chinese-language United Evening News on Monday last week, Su was quoted as saying that during a visit to Shanghai last month, he and Taipei Forum members were told to read an online article which was circulating among various Chinese departments that deal with Taiwan affairs. The article said that as peaceful cross-strait unification is no longer possible, China could start preparing itself for a war to conquer Taiwan by force, to be launched some time between January and May next year.
The article, penned by a self-declared Chinese sociologist living in the US, said that if the Taiwan “problem” does not get solved now, it would deteriorate and be procrastinated over forever.
“Since the chance that Tsai would openly endorse the ‘1992 consensus’ and that Taiwan and [China] belong to the same China is extremely slim, it is time for Beijing to prepare for war,” the man was quoted by the paper as saying.
Setting aside doubts over the veracity of members of the Chinese political establishment reading an article by a hawkish Chinese with no academic position in the US or China, Su, as an academic long-immersed in cross-strait affairs, should know better than to fall for such a scheme and be turned into a mouthpiece for the Chinese government.
It is even more regrettable that his assistance in conveying such a message has been assisted by the deep-blue camp, including the KMT’s clownish figure Chiu Yi (邱毅), who made a live call to the article’s author during a political television show on Monday.
The author responded by saying that Taiwanese should not blame China for waging a war and that “Taiwan’s independence-leaning party” is to blame.
The host claimed that the author’s comments “have made Taiwanese more familiar with what [the Chinese] public are thinking.”
Since January’s elections, Taiwanese have seen some intimidating sticks which embody the Chinese menace being wielded their way, including the call for a tighter “loyalty check” over Taiwanese businesspeople in China and the move to reduce the number of Chinese visitors to Taiwan. However, there have been no signs of any carrots.
Considering how Chinese domestic politics have played out recently, with Xi tightening his control and factional infighting rampant in the Chinese Communist Party, showcasing a resolute stance toward Taiwan is necessary for China’s leaders.
However, breaking the delicate cross-strait balance now is probably the last thing they want.
The DPP is going to have a difficult time maintaining its promise to Taiwanese and presenting a cross-strait position that is acceptable to Beijing. However, parroting a warmonger’s nonsense is the last thing the nation needs.
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