Beijing has begun to emphasize the development of growing cross-strait ties as a foundation for unification between Taiwan and China, local academics said in a meeting in Taipei yesterday.
Chen Chun-sheng (陳春生), an honorary professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, said that China has gradually replaced its “peaceful unification” strategy with “peaceful development.”
By strengthening private ties between Taiwan and China, he said that Beijing was attempting to soften the public image of China, while at the same time gaining greater control of wider segments of Taiwan’s economy and politics.
“Their final target is not only to … soften independence [forces] and push for unification, but also [complete] unification in the long run,” he said at a forum hosted by the Taiwan Association of -University Professors and Taiwan Thinktank.
“China has also never given up its rhetoric that it could use force against Taiwan,” Chen said.
As part of this policy, he said, Beijing has continued to treat Taiwan as an internal issue, refusing to support any efforts from Taipei to expand its global space, including participation in international organizations.
The issue, he said, was exemplified by Chinese opposition to Taiwan’s participation in the Tokyo International Film Festival in October.
“Despite the warming of relations between Taiwan and China, the Chinese authorities do not view its connections with Taiwan as a sort of ‘brothership,’” Chen said. “Instead, it continues to meaninglessly put pressure on Taiwan through its actions.”
Chen Yen-hui (陳延輝), a professor at the Graduate Institute of Political Science at National Taiwan Normal University, said that examples of these growing ties include the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China, signed in June, which seeks to increase economic exchanges.
However, as a side effect of this policy, Chen Yen-hui added that it has resulted in growing economic disparities as well as having an impact on Taiwan’s domestic policies.