Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and other Chinese Communist Party leaders are concerned about what might happen if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election, a leading US analyst said.
In a paper that might help calm Chinese fears, Alan Romberg, director of the Asia program at the Washington-based Stimson Center, said it is “fanciful” to think the DPP would move toward independence.
“In my judgement, the idea that moving to formal Taiwan independence could become a goal of a future DPP administration is fanciful,” Romberg said.
Taiwan experts in China “understand” it is not going to happen, he added.
What is not fanciful is that the DPP is unlikely to come up with a policy that is based on the “one China” framework, Romberg said.
Thus, if the DPP wins in 2016, Beijing would have to deal with “authorities who had not accepted the required framework for smooth cross-strait relations,” he said.
Romberg said that he “presumes” that China’s more urgent push for political dialogue with the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is meant to lock in a relationship based on a “one China” framework that cannot be reversed.
It will be interesting to see how the DPP plans to gain the support of the crucial electoral center if it became clear that China will not accept the party’s current approach as a basis for advancing relations, he said.
Romberg’s latest paper, published by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, said it is “doubtful” Beijing will ease off on its push for political dialogue.
Over the past few months, Xi may have gathered a clearer understanding of Taiwan’s political realities, he said.
However, Xi remains focused on achieving further development, including in the political realm, which “clearly continues to be high on his agenda,” Romberg said.
The Ma administration wants to maintain momentum in cross-strait relations and to make progress to the degree that it is possible, Romberg said.
However, public opinion must be taken into consideration in determining the pace of cross-strait exchanges and it is still too early to talk about political issues, he said.
Romberg says that both sides are interested in a Xi-Ma summit, but at this point their visions of the necessary conditions needed to pull it off remain “far apart.”
There has been speculation that in his new job as secretary-general of the National Security Council, outgoing Representative to the US King Pu-tsung (金溥聰) will focus on year-end local elections.
More likely, King will manage Taiwan’s entry into regional economic organizations and promote Taipei’s bilateral relationships, Romberg said.
“King’s responsibilities will also, however, relate importantly to advancing cross-strait relations, including the possibility of a Ma-Xi meeting,” Romberg said.