Sat, Jul 14, 2018 - Page 8 News List

China unlikely to pay local retirees

By John Lim 林泉忠

The suggested subsidy highlights my suggestion that an analysis of the era of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) must look at how China uses a new “direct power approach” to address the “Taiwan question.”

On the one hand, the new “direct power” approach stems from the failure of traditional “united front” strategies to win over Taiwanese, in particular as politics and society have become increasingly Taiwan-centric since the 1990s.

As Beijing sees it, the situation has reached a dangerous, hard-to-reverse stage and it is necessary to come up with new thinking.

On the other hand, Beijing is on the way up and as a result is growing economically stronger. At a time when there is a growing power imbalance between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, that gives Beijing even more room to influence Taiwanese society.

The “direct power” approach focuses on using economic strength as leverage to gradually integrate Taiwan into China’s social and administrative framework to achieve substantive cross-strait unification.

If the 31 incentives for Taiwanese that China presented in February are intended to attract young Taiwanese to China and become integrated in Chinese society, then the NT$10 billion subsidy, which would not only target Taiwanese living in China, shows that the next stage of China’s Taiwan policy, focusing on the “direct power” approach, is being expanded to include the majority of Taiwanese who remain in Taiwan.

Simply put, even though it is unlikely that a NT$10 billion subsidy will be implemented, the idea’s imaginativeness and inventiveness reflects the strength of Xi’s “direct power” approach and that it is going beyond what anyone in Taiwan had been able to imagine.

It is likely that we will see a series of policies based on the idea of “direct power,” and finding ways to calmly and firmly address and neutralize these policies will be a test of the government’s and of society’s cohesion, endurance and ability to respond.

John Lim is an associate research fellow in Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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