Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) remarks in a speech on Wednesday last week are likely to exacerbate factionalism within the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) ahead of next year’s presidential election, academics said.
In a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Xi equated the so-called “1992 consensus” with China’s “one country, two systems” formula.
The KMT has argued that each side of the Taiwan Strait is free to have its own interpretation of what “China” means in the “1992 consensus.” The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side interpreting “China” differently.
The speech was the first time that Xi removed any ambiguity about the term by explicitly stating that Beijing would rule Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” formula.
While the KMT has denied that the “1992 consensus” includes the formula, Xi explicitly defined the term as meaning that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, and both sides should cooperatively strive for unification,” Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), a professor of China and Asia Pacific studies at National Sun Yat-sen University, said on Sunday.
Xi also said that unification would take the form of the “one country, two systems” formula, Lin said.
“Therefore, according to what Xi said, the ‘1992 consensus’ essentially means the ‘one country, two systems’ formula,” Lin said.
Xi has removed any ambiguity from the term, leaving the KMT with no room to maneuver or way avoid the topic, he said.
Unlike the KMT, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and pro-localization voters have never been won over by the “1992 consensus,” Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology associate research fellow Wu Chieh-min (吳介民) said.
Xi’s “five points” for the promotion of peaceful unification are just a repackaging of the term, Wu said.
“It is like putting old wine in new bottles, but the local public and the international community are uninterested in this ‘bottle,’” he said.
The “one country, two systems” formula has no political value and is like “poison” for the presidential elections, he said, adding that the KMT would likely try to publicly distance itself from Beijing this year.
The KMT will need to solve the “thorny problem” of how to retain ties with China, but keep those ties concealed, Wu said.
Xi misinterpreted the KMT’s gains in the Nov. 24 local elections as meaning that China’s policies toward Taiwan were correct, which is why Xi chose this time to bring up the “one country, two systems” formula, he added.
The KMT’s election wins in the local elections on Nov. 24 last year were due to people’s concerns about livelihood issues, not about cross-strait ties, he said, adding that Xi’s “hardline” remarks have left him with egg on his face.
Xi hopes to cultivate certain politicians in Taiwan and his “five points” are simply a call to action for those politicians, Wu said.
Through promises of financial rewards, certain politicians have been roused to act as representatives of Taiwan in dialogues with China, which are an attempt to break through Taiwan’s democratic defenses through psychological manipulation, he said.
Xi “wants to dig his hooks into the minds of ambitious people who have dreams of getting rich. He wants to appeal to people’s greed to buy Taiwan,” he said.
When the local media report on Xi’s “five points,” scaring the Taiwanese public with talk of unification, that means the CCP’s psychological warfare works, Wu said.
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