What will Xi do next?
Xi Jinping (習近平), soon to be appointed president of the People’s Republic of China, is creating quite a stir among China-watchers. China has procured maritime, space and technology capabilities quickly. Most notably, China’s first aircraft carrier launched earlier this year, and China has displayed an aggressive and nationalistic posture in the South China Sea, so it comes as no surprise that some academics are keen to understand the future of Chinese hegemony.
Xi Jinping, over the next two to four years, will take the reins and consolidate his rule over an increasingly robust military — a relationship that Xi has in the past sought to safeguard. At that point, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will conclude his term, leaving a window for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to be re-elected.
Given the growing yet ambiguous nature of Chinese foreign policy and, in light of Xi assuming a decade’s tenure, what is the future of cross-strait relations in the forthcoming Xi era with Taiwan’s next election and changing demographics looming on the horizon?
In September, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau director-general, Tsai De-sheng (蔡得勝), made it clear that China’s Taiwan policy is not scheduled to immediately change. Tsai’s remarks are corroborated by US academic Alice Miller of the Hoover Institution. She suggests that Xi will not only continue the policies currently pursued by China, but may also prove to be more flexible in cross-strait dialogue as he consolidates power.
On Jan. 14, Ma resumed the presidency, barely defeating his DPP opponent, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a close presidential race by garnering 51.6 percent of the total vote. Currently, Ma’s popularity in the polls has plunged to a new all-time low, indicating the rising ethnic and collective identity felt by many Taiwanese, especially those residing in the south, who may repudiate the so-called “1992 consensus.”
While Ma built an impressive report card deterring aggressive military posturing on the side of China and making great gains in cross-strait stability. However, it appears that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) may not be in a favorable position to win another election in 2016.
If the DPP continues to espouse de facto independence and the KMT remains disfavored due to the Ma administration, and if China has greater flexibility under the Xi administration, what will be the future of cross-strait relations?
Surely, only time will tell.
It has been predicted that Xi will not completely alter China’s Taiwan policy. However, the query remains relevant and urgent, especially if the DPP continues to repudiate the so-called “1992 consensus,” an obstruction to the flow of relations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Clearing the air
Wednesday’s editorial (“Blue and green skies above Taiwan,” Nov. 7, page 8) clearly reflects that Taiwanese are confused over their nationality and status.
Blue and green skies may sound good for the sake of harmony, but green skies never exist in nature. Blue sky and green land might be a better symbol for Taiwan. Blue represents clean air and good weather, and green represents fertile land and a peaceful country.
It is a pity that Taiwanese are still struggling with the basic rights of nationality and status after centuries of history.
During this period, the US, Canada, Australia and India became independent from the UK, as did Ukraine from the former USSR, East Timor from Indonesia and so on.
However, Taiwan’s status is still unsettled. Taiwan’s independence from China does not make sense since Taiwan is not under the jurisdiction of China. As a great country, China should act more like the UK — instead of like an “Indian giver.”
Taiwan is also called “Formosa” as used in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and “Chinese Taipei” is used in the Olympics Games and at other international sports events.
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) called the Republic of China (ROC) the “ROC on Taiwan” and suggested that there was a special nation-to-nation relationship with China. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) added “Taiwan” to ROC passports and suggested that Taiwan and China were separate countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) promotes a “one China” policy and has a goal of “ultimate unification.”
Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) once remarked that the ROC is Taiwan, and Taiwan the ROC. Former premier Yu Shyi-kun recently stated that Tsai’s remarks need not contradict the ultimate aim of independence.
This long list of Taiwan’s names, nationality and status will make people feel dizzy. It is time for Taiwanese to clean up their nationality and settle their status so that foreigners and Taiwanese themselves will not be puzzled or conflicted.