Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) remarks about Taiwan at the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th National Congress yesterday were intended as a warning to the US, Taiwanese academics said.
Xi said in his opening speech at the congress that “the issue of [China’s unification with] Taiwan is for Chinese to solve, and for Chinese to make decisions on,” and China would “never renounce the use of force” in the effort.
Other statements related to Taiwan in the final report from the congress included references to “peaceful reunification,” adapting China’s “one country, two systems” framework to Taiwan, Beijing’s “one China” principle and the “1992 consensus.”
The so-called 1992 consensus refers to a term that former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000.
Xi also said there is “strong support for patriotic reunification” among Taiwanese.
The congress showed a clear focus on opposing interference by external forces in what China views as internal issues, Taiwan Society of International Law deputy secretary-general Lin Ting-hui (林廷輝) said at a forum held by the Cross-Strait Policy Association in Taipei yesterday.
Xi’s comments were meant to draw a red line around Taiwan for the US’ awareness and to serve as a warning to Washington, he said.
US-China relations are likely to grow more unstable, which could affect Taiwan, he said, adding that Taipei should prepare for such a contingency.
Some statements about Taiwan were new to this year’s CCP congress, association secretary-general Wang Chih-sheng (王智盛) said.
Among the remarks in the final report was a claim by Xi that China was “putting our best effort into unifying Taiwan peacefully, but will not renounce the use of force if necessary,” as well as claims that China had “always worked to benefit Taiwanese compatriots, and works at promoting cross-strait exchanges.”
The final report also said that China was “working to improve the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” and that it would need to “consult with people from all parties and all walks of life in Taiwan” on its implementation.
The CCP congress this year was largely focused on opposition to Taiwan’s independence, as well as to foreign interference in what China sees as its own affairs, National Chengchi University Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies professor Wang Hsin-hsien (王信賢) said.
Beijing sees the issue of Taiwan as being inseparably related to its strategic competition with the US, Wang said.
“In the past, China was in a rush to deal with Hong Kong, and was slower in its approach to Taiwan,” he said. “Now Beijing sees Hong Kong as having stabilized, but there’s been some developments regarding Taiwan, so its likely to shift focus.”
The previous National Congress report in 2017 mentioned the “1992 consensus” several times, but this year the report only mentioned it once, he said.
“This shows that Beijing is no longer seeing the issue of Taiwan as being only about the cross-strait relationship. For Beijing, the Taiwan issue is now embedded in the US-China relationship,” he said.
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