Taiwan is the primary target of a Chinese campaign of political warfare, according to a new study by a Washington-based think tank.
The 40-page study by Project 2049 Institute executive director Mark Stokes and senior fellow Russell Hsiao was published this week.
“Taiwan’s democratic system of government — an alternative to mainland China’s authoritarian model — presents an existential challenge to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) political authority,” the report said.
With political legitimacy across the Taiwan Strait viewed as a zero-sum game within the international arena, authorities in Beijing have long sought the political subordination of Taiwan, it added. As a result, a “coercive persuasion campaign” intended to manipulate international perceptions of the “one China” model and undermine Taiwan’s international legitimacy, is being waged, the paper said.
Beijing runs a “complex network” designed to influence the policies of the US, Taiwan and other countries, it said, adding that several party and state organizations engage in political warfare, but under the leadership of the CCP Central Military Commission, the Chinese the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Political Department Liaison Department is the PLA’s principal political warfare command.
“Political warfare is the employment of instruments of national power — short of war — to achieve foreign policy goals,” the study said.
Chinese political warfare seeks to shore up legitimacy domestically, reframe international rules of the road and promote alternatives to widely accepted universal values, it added.
“While the US is viewed as an ideological adversary, Taiwan remains the central focus of PLA political warfare,” the study said.
“The objective reality is that Taiwan, under its current ROC [Republic of China] constitutional framework, exists as an independent, sovereign state. The two equally legitimate governments — the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and ROC — are currently committed to ‘one China’ principles, under which they exercise exclusive administrative jurisdiction over the territory under their respective control, with neither side subordinate to the other,” the report said..
“In the context of the US ‘one China’ policy, a ‘one China, two governments’ framework may serve as the most accurate representation of the ‘status quo’ in the Taiwan Strait,” it went on.
However, with Taiwan seen as a challenge to the CCP’s monopoly on power, authorities in Beijing have long sought the political subordination of Taiwan under a “one country, two systems” principle, the paper said, adding that in the near term, Beijing appears focused on creating the conditions for early initiation of cross-strait political negotiations on terms favorable to it.