A leading Chinese academic told a US audience on Thursday that following the leadership transition in Beijing, China wanted to expand its “interaction” with Taiwan.
“We want to change for the better — not for the worse,” executive dean at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University Shen Dingli (沈丁立) said.
Speaking on a panel addressing “transitional issues,” Shen told the day-long conference on “China as a Global Power” that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should consult and make a joint decision to start “common efforts.”
He said China did not want a war with Taiwan, but at the same time it did not want continued separation.
“It is complicated,” he said.
While Taiwan was mentioned in passing by most of the panelists at the conference organized by the Woodrow Wilson International Center and the George Washington University Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Shen was the only speaker to address the issue at any length. He said that China needed to consult and talk closely with Taiwanese and use whatever was “good and constructive” to help relations evolve.
“Mainland China eventually wants one peace settlement, and we hope for unification,” he said.
However, Shen stressed that he meant unification based on agreement with “the people living across the Strait.”
He said China needed to work harder to arrive at its desired destination.
“It should be based on our being accepted by the people of Taiwan,” he said.
Shen said China might fail to reach the full expectations of Taiwanese and in that case it would need to redouble its efforts.
“We respect the view of the people and we want to expand our interaction,” he said. “We respect that the people might still have difficulty doing political business with us. We respect this and are very conciliatory.”
Shen said that China sometimes did not know “how to go about” presenting its case and that he knew there were occasions when it frightened people.
“But that is not our intention, we want to be effectively constructive,” he said.