Sun, Jan 27, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Xi trying to divert attention: academic

RED HERRING:Beijing threatened Taiwan to distract people from internal and external challenges, and because it depends heavily on Taiwanese expertise, Wu Jieh-min said

By Peng Wan-hsin  /  Staff reporter

Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min speaks at an event in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peng Wan-hsin, Taipei Times

Taiwan should not “terrorize itself” and march to the beat of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) “five statements,” as they are a red herring aimed at turning public discontent away from other problems facing the Chinese government, Academia Sinica associate research fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) yesterday said.

The remarks by Xi on the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” on Jan. 2 included a proposal to develop a Taiwanese version of the “one country, two systems” framework to unify Taiwan and China, and a warning that Beijing would not renounce the use of force to annex Taiwan.

In a context where China is beleaguered by a host of internal and external problems, the statements were timed to shift people’s attention away from China’s own problems and to assuage public discontent at home, Wu said at a seminar in Taipei.

As its economic growth slows, China is pushing the “Made in China 2025” plan, which is predicated on the domestic development of semiconductors and therefore relies heavily on Taiwanese professionals and technologies, he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative has met with pushback from several Southeast Asian countries, he said, adding that China’s trade has been hit by its trade dispute with the US.

“China needs something from Taiwan, so Taiwan is not entirely on the defensive,” he said.

Xi’s statements were meant to rein in Taiwan to prevent it from achieving formal independence, Wu said, adding that Beijing was also trying to gain spokespeople in Taiwan to execute its divide-and-conquer tactics and weaken the identification of Taiwanese with their nation, which is a crucial condition for Beijing’s “united front” work.

China is too preoccupied by the challenges it faces to use force against Taiwan, so it employs psychological warfare in hopes of gaining Taiwan’s cooperation, he said.

Taiwanese should not worry, but keep a cool head when analyzing China’s intent, he said.

Some local news outlets have been echoing Beijing’s rhetoric, saying that “Taiwan’s days are numbered,” Wu said.

However, people must realize that the so-called “peace agreement” proposed by China means “one China, and crushing the Taiwanese independence movement for good,” he said.

“The worst-case scenario is the nation losing its autonomy,” he said.

Economic Democracy Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said that Taiwan’s democratic defenses should be reinforced by amending the Act Governing Treaty Ratification (條約締結法) and the Nationality Act (國籍法) to bolster the nation’s bargaining position with Beijing and prevent China from assimilating Taiwanese.

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