China’s policy toward Taiwan is to focus in the future on being “closer to the people” as evidenced by the tone of this week’s visit to Taiwan by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies director Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷) said.
Zhou was referring to Zhang’s attempts to mingle with ordinary Taiwanese, including people at nursing homes and nursery schools during his visit.
Zhang’s itinerary clearly underscored a desire to inject a “common touch” into cross-strait ties, Zhou said, and he expected Beijing’s Taiwan policy to adopt the theme of “two sides of the Taiwan Strait being one close family.”
A mainstream element of that approach would be moving “closer to the people,” Zhou said at a forum in Beijing on Friday that was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the institute, regarded in China as a key think tank on Taiwan.
The academic said the forum was being held “at a special time,” with Zhang’s trip to Taiwan reciprocating an earlier visit to China by Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) in February.
Zhou described the cross-strait trip as “sailing against the current” to achieve new breakthroughs.
Yet as Zhang is trying to portray a more conciliatory image on his trip, he has been shadowed by protesters wherever he has gone, reflecting the unease many Taiwanese and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) feel about closer ties with China.
The DPP has vehemently opposed deals that would bring the two economies closer, such as the service trade pact signed in June last year, which remains stalled in the Legislative Yuan.
Zhou said the DPP, before it could regain power, needed to examine its resistance to the services pact, a bill on overseeing cross-strait pacts and legislation on setting up free economic pilot zones.
Chao Chien-min (趙健民), a former MAC deputy minister, said at the forum that Zhang’s visit showed that China is attaching more importance to appealing directly to public opinion in promoting cross-strait ties.
Yet he acknowledged that there remains a lack of mutual trust on both sides, including controversies over the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “one China” framework.