Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Chinese President Xi Jinping, also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, expounded on the connotation of Chinese mainland’s basic policy on Taiwan in the new era in remarks to commemorate the 40th anniversary of issuing the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan. Xi, whose remarks are of historical significance, charted the course of development of cross-Straits relations. The speech can serve both as a proclamation for advancing China’s peaceful reunification in the new era, and as a road map for achieving such a great cause with concerted efforts of both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
Declaring the resolve of the Chinese mainland in its pursuit of peaceful reunification, Xi emphasized that cross-Straits reunification is the trend of history and that the Taiwan question originated from national weakness and disorder, and will definitely end with national rejuvenation. In other words, the Taiwan question is bound to be resolved and China’s peaceful reunification is bound to be achieved during national rejuvenation. This is a response to the world’s question on when the Taiwan question will be resolved.
Xi was particular in pointing out that “Taiwan independence” goes against the trend of history and will lead to a dead end. The mainland is willing to create space for peaceful reunification, but will leave no room for separatist activities. Therefore, it does not rule out force and reserves the option of using all means against external forces and a bunch of “Taiwan independence” separatists. Although the mainland upholds the policy of peaceful reunification, it will never exclude the possibility of resorting to the Anti-Secession Law if the “Taiwan independence” activists continue to promote separatism, and if foreign forces headed by the US interfere in cross-Straits affairs.
Xi reiterated that the Taiwan question is China’s internal affairs. It bears on China’s core interests and Beijing will brook no foreign interference. In addition, China’s reunification will not harm the interests of other countries including their economic activities in Taiwan, but will only bring them more opportunities for development.
In 2018, US President Donald Trump played the Taiwan card more actively. Trump’s policy will not affect the pace of reunification and will do more harm to the interests of US and other foreign forces.
In his speech, Xi emphasized the future course of cross-Straits relations. He called on all the compatriots in Taiwan to treasure peace, and said that the principles of “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems” are the best approach to realizing national reunification. He also called on to uphold the one-China policy and deepen the integrated development across the Taiwan Straits to consolidate the foundation of peaceful reunification.
The most important policy innovation is to explore the concept of “one country, two systems” for Taiwan. “Peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems” are the guiding principles to resolve the Taiwan question after the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan was issued in 1979, and first implemented in Hong Kong and Macao. Beijing needs to study the approach to the Taiwan question under “one country, two systems.”
For implementing the concept, the current conditions in Taiwan, opinion of all walks of life across the Taiwan Straits as well as feelings of the Taiwan compatriots will be taken into consideration. The social system and way of life of the Taiwan island will be fully respected and private property, religious beliefs and legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots will be protected after peaceful reunification is achieved. Xi’s statement can be regarded as the core guiding principle of the “Taiwan approach.”
Xi also pointed out that the long-standing political differences cannot be dragged on generation after generation. Xi proposed that political parties and all sectors on both sides of the Straits may recommend representatives to conduct extensive and in-depth democratic consultation on cross-Straits relations and the future of the nation, and establish institutional arrangement for peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, on the basis of the common political foundation of upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing “Taiwan independence.” Xi had made a similar proposal on cross-Straits ties in a meeting with Vincent Siew of Taiwan in 2013.
Political dialogue with the island is a highly sensitive issue. The time for resolving the conflict through talks has come after there was no fruitful discussion during the period of cooperation between 2008 and 2016. As long as the institutional arrangement for peaceful development of relations is made, the road to China’s reunification will not be far.