Sat, May 06, 2017 - Page 8 News List

China changes approach to Taiwan

By Parris Chang 張旭成

China’s relentless pressure has failed to make Tsai yield. Xi might wonder why China has not been able to win over the hearts and the minds of Taiwanese. Has Xi ever been informed that the ECFA only enriches a handful of compradors, business tycoons and corrupt cadres in China’s Taiwan-policy apparatus?

Xi appears to understand that ordinary Taiwanese have been alienated as they suffer from the flight of Taiwanese capital and the relocation of production facilities to China, resulting in unemployment and stagnant wages, especially among young people.

It is late, but better than never, for the policymakers in Beijing to develop a new approach to Taiwan affairs. People’s Liberation Army Air Force Major General Huang Zhicheng (黃植誠), a member of the CPPCC, was quoted by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post as saying: “I understand the central authorities are seriously considering a change in their policy toward Taiwan, with some approaches definitely different from the previous one.”

Huang’s boss at the CPPCC, Yu, reportedly changed tack at the annual session in March and called on delegates to engage Taiwan’s grassroots and youth.

Henceforth, Beijing might scale down its decades-long reliance on inter-party dialogue between the CCP and KMT and seek to engage Taiwanese from all walks of life through local civic organizations.

In line with this new approach, Beijing has been reshuffling its Taiwan policy apparatus.

In February, Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷), a famed Taiwan expert and director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, a front organization of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS), resigned and was replaced by Yang Mingjie (楊明杰), an expert on US and international affairs and associate dean of the MSS-affiliated China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Gong Qinggai (龔清概), standing deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, was purged and sentenced to 15 years in jail for corruption and other crimes. He was replaced by Zheng Shanjie (鄭珊潔), an experienced senior cadre. Dai Bingguo (戴秉國), previously a state councilor and China’s top diplomat, was appointed chairman of China’s National Society of Taiwan Studies — an official organ — in an indication that the CCP leadership looks to change its policy.

Will Beijing’s shift of focus to Taiwan’s young people and small businesses do wonders? It is too early to say. Most important of all, Xi must develop new thinking and free himself from the constraints of the Communist bureaucracy.

As if speaking to Xi through the Reuters interview, Tsai said: “Why not say we both are facing a new exam? We also look forward to China using a different perspective to face this new exam. China now needs to have its own sense of responsibility. The world is changing and China must change too.”

The World Health Assembly will meet in Geneva in two weeks, but Taiwan has not received an invitation due to Beijing’s objection. Tsai has reminded Xi that China’s decision would be an important benchmark for relations between the two sides.

In his message to Taiwan over the years, Xi has called for ethnic solidarity and national unity, and extolled the glorious rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

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