Sat, Feb 10, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China’s new approach on Taiwan

By Hong Chi-chang 洪奇昌

How, then, will China carry out its Taiwan policy while trying to “seize the day, seize the hour”?

Apart from firm opposition to and deterrence of Taiwanese independence, China can be expected to focus more on its unilateral initiatives when pushing for unification.

The policies unveiled in Wang’s speech implies that China will actively expand cross-strait economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation, deepen integration of cross-strait economic and social development, giving Taiwanese studying, starting businesses, working and living in China the same treatment as the Chinese, and encourage people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to promote Chinese culture and their “spiritual affinity.” Specifically, Beijing will stop following trends and start being pro-active.

Plainly put, such unilateral initiatives indicate that China will do whatever it wants without negotiating with Taiwan. This has been Beijing’s approach since the DPP regained power and it ended cross-strait contacts.

From the issuing of the Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents in the form of an identification card to the opening of the M503 flight route last month, Beijing has repeatedly side-stepped the Taiwanese government and aimed itself directly at Taiwanese society.

Perhaps Beijing believes that its national strength and economic interests will allow it to force the Taiwanese government to compromise for the sake of the Taiwanese people’s welfare. However, the current situation implies that the two governments are like two trucks running straight at each other in a game of chicken, and there is no incentive for either to flinch. Chinese officials always make a point of understanding the spirit of their leaders’ speeches, but the effectiveness of implementation is another story.

Maybe Beijing should think twice. Although unilateral integration and active intervention and initiatives may accelerate some measures favorable to Taiwanese, the question is if that will lead to “spiritual affinity” between the two sides.

Hong Chi-chang is a former chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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