China today marks the anniversary of former president Jiang Zemin's (江澤民) 1995 reunification proposal to Taiwan that ushered in robust economic ties against a backdrop of saber-rattling over Taipei's independence aspirations.
"After the Jiang eight-point plan came out 10 years ago it played a very important role in pushing forward the development of cross straits relations," said Li Weiyi (李維一), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office.
Top Communist Party member Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) will give a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing today on Jiang's "Eight Points."
The commemoration comes a day before the start of the first-ever direct Lunar New Year holiday charter flights between the China and Taiwan.
The flights do not signal that Beijing and Taipei have agreed to hold negotiations on intensifying political relations, Li said.
"The Jiang eight-point plan has been a very important document," said Joseph Cheng (鄭宇碩), a leading China analyst at the City University of Hong Kong.
"Friday's speech will be an important occasion for Chinese leaders to demonstrate policy continuity and solidarity within the leadership over the Taiwan issue," Cheng said.
"With the direct flight agreement it is a good opportunity to reiterate Jiang's policy, while showing that the mainland is ready to be pragmatic and flexible," he said.
Despite the general welcome the Jiang policy received in 1995, relations soured when president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) visited the US that year, sparking an angry response from Beijing. By the summer of 1996, ahead of Taiwan's first-ever democratic presidential elections, Beijing's threats grew so serious that the largest US naval force to the western Pacific since the Vietnam War was dispatched.
"China reacted out of proportion and its strong military response destroyed the goodwill created by the eight-point plan," Cheng said.
"Beijing's reaction and the Taiwan Strait crisis helped Lee Teng-hui win a landslide victory in his re-election," he said, adding that Chinese saber rattling also contributed to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) winning a second term last year.
Li stressed that the purposes of Jiang's policy were peaceful and denied that the Chinese war-mongering that helped Taiwan independence forces gain their electoral victory marked a failure of the plan.
"The existence of the Taiwan independence splittist forces and its political background seriously threatens peace and stability across the Strait," Li said.
"Implementing Jiang's eight- point plan is aimed at stabilizing cross strait relations and realizing the normalization of cross strait ties ..., as far as [growth] in Taiwan independence and splittist activities this does not mean the policy has any problems," he said.