Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 8 News List

China changes approach to Taiwan

By Parris Chang 張旭成

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in an interview with Reuters on April 27 called on Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to exercise his leadership in reshaping China’s policy toward Taiwan.

“I hope Chairman Xi Jinping, as a leader of a large country and who sees himself as a leader, can show a pattern and flexibility, use a different angle to look at cross-strait relations, and allow the future of cross-strait ties to have a different kind of pattern,” she said.

Since Tsai took office in May last year, Beijing has frozen official communications and engagement with Taipei. Beijing has exerted immense pressure on Taiwan by delaying meetings mandated by the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), barring Taiwanese officials from attending meetings in China, restricting the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan and cutting imports of Taiwan’s agricultural and industrial products.

Chinese authorities have also penalized Taiwanese businesspeople in China to make them keep their distance from the Tsai government and refrain from supporting Taiwanese independence.

Hai Pa Wang International Group, which runs a major food supply chain in China, was investigated for a breach of regulations. It was forced to publish a front-page advertisement in Taiwanese newspapers in December last year to disassociate itself from Tsai’s government and proclaim its adherence to China’s policy that “both Taiwan and the Mainland belong to one China.”

In addition, Beijing has tried to limit Taiwan’s diplomatic space, isolate Taiwan in the international community and employ various political measures against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

In February last year, shortly after the devastating defeat of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in Taiwan’s general elections, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) convened a Taiwan Work Conference to review its policy toward Taiwan.

Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, second in command of the CCP Taiwan Work Leadership Group, and chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), instructed party cadres to place great emphasis on “strengthening engagements and exchanges with all the political parties and groups that recognize that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to China.”

In plain language, this is Beijing’s classic divide and conquer strategy, a CCP-KMT united-front operation to weaken and undermine Tsai’s government.

Thus, in November last year, the CCP sponsored an annual CCP-KMT dialogue (renamed the Cross-Strait Peaceful Development Forum) in China and invited KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to meet with Xi in Beijing.

Hung had a rather weak base of support in the KMT and she had been severely criticized due to her audacious pro-China policy, but her ideas were much to Xi’s liking. After all, more than any other KMT chairperson, Hung has advocated full acceptance of Beijing’s “one China” principle and supported Taiwan’s unification with China, and under her stewardship, the KMT adopted a new peace-centered policy platform in September last year.

As part of Beijing’s political warfare and united-front operation against the DPP government, China’s enablers in Taiwan — Taiwanese tycoons — have collaborated with the CCP to acquire newspapers and TV outlets. Beijing directs these mouthpieces to engage in political polemics, propagate “correct” information, promote Beijing’s agenda on Taiwan and attack Tsai’s policy platform as well as supporters of Taiwanese independence.

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