Tsai stance on PRC policy expected later

END OF THE MONTH::While the president will mention cross-strait ties in her National Day speech, she is not expected to respond to any new policy from Beijing until later

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 1

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expected to use a forum later this month to respond to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) latest Taiwan policy, which is expected to be announced at the party’s 19th National Congress, sources said.

Tsai will use rhetoric similar to that of her recent interview with the Central News Agency (CNA) to discuss cross-strait relations in her Double Ten National Day address tomorrow, said a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

However, she is likely to deliver a speech at a forum in Taipei organized by the Mainland Affairs Council and the Straits Exchange Foundation at the end of this month to respond to pronouncements made during the CCP’s National Congress, which is to be held in Beijing from Wednesday next week through Oct. 25.

In the CNA interview published on Tuesday, Tsai said she hoped the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could create a new model to handle cross-strait relations after the CCP congress.

Speculation that Beijing is planning unification by force have been fueled in recent months by what appear to be increased Chinese military activities targeting Taiwan this year, including multiple full-circle voyages around the nation by Chinese H-6K bombers and the aircraft carrier Liaoning.

The Hong Kong-based Chinese-language magazine Yazhou Zhoukan ran a cover story earlier this month on the possibility of China seeking such unification after the congress.

However, a national security official in Taipei, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said growing calls for forceful unification reflect the opinion of a handful of hawkish and hardline groups, not the mainstream voice in China.

The former director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies, Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷), in July urged a “unification timetable,” but he has not mentioned the topic since, the security source said.

The council has maintained a somewhat sanguine view toward cross-strait development after the congress, despite former American Institute in Taiwan chairman Richard Bush’s prediction that China would introduce a deadline for a resolution on Taiwan during the congress.

The council believes that Beijing is likely to adhere to its previous principles and policies on cross-strait ties, continuing its united-front campaign and exertion of pressure on the nation.

A high-level government official, who also requested anonymity, said there are various predications about how cross-strait relations could evolve after the congress, and the government is monitoring the issue.

“Though it is unwise for the government to make predictions when the CCP’s national congress is just around the corner, the Tsai administration will neither be blindly optimistic nor unreasonably pessimistic,” the official said.

Beijing is unlikely to set a timetable for issues that could raise tension in the Asia-Pacific region, not even on Hong Kong matters, the official said.