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Panel: Beijing Keeps Increasing Pressure on Taiwan to Join Mainland

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Beijing has ramped up diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taipei to accept its “One China” point of view and it is driving the United States to better define what that means in Washington, experts on cross-straits relations said Thursday.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, Zhao Suisheng, a professor at the University of Denver, said in answer to a question that while peaceful unification still is official policy and mainstream thinking among the Chinese leadership and public, President Xi Jinping has in several recent speeches signaled that he wanted to see the matter resolved between 2021 and 2049, marking the centennials of the founding of the Communist Party and its successful revolution

The issue “has brought two strong leaders [Xi and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen] to stalemate.” Tsai’s party, which also won control of Taiwan’s legislative branch, is identified with sovereignty, pitting Chinese nationalism against Taiwanese nationalism.

Zhao said since many in Tsai’s party are young and “cannot accept the One-China policy. She might think time is on her side” to achieve sovereignty. Later in answer to a question, he said Taiwan sees itself as a democracy and the young people on the island view mainland China as needing political reform.

But on the mainland, patience is wearing thin over the continued stalemate over unification, and many there see “increased economic integration has not created any political spillover.” This led to the imposition of tough economic sanctions and its arm-twisting of other nations to boycott the island’s products and further isolate Taiwan internationally, he added.

Increasingly, Chinese leaders “don’t see peaceful unification policy as succeeding” and that it is “better to fight early” to achieve it, despite the economic implications of such moves on Beijing, Zhao said. Their position is not to wait generations to reach the goal of a unified China.

What Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, sees as growing in the United States is ambivalence to Taiwan and that “is not a policy” that is in the best interests of either in dealing with an assertive China.

What “One-China” means in Beijing is not the same thing as it means in Washington, and the United States needs to make that clear to the Chinese. Hammond-Chambers raised the question of what follows that: “Are we re-willing to re-partner with Taiwan on modernizing” its security forces as the United States did in the 1990s and not just supplying the island with more munitions.

On Taiwan’s part, Hammond-Chambers said it needs to dump Qatar and China and look to the United States for its energy needs, end its ban on pork imports from the United States and spell out its true needs and wants from the United States to better deter and defend itself against Chinese aggression.

“It takes two to tango” to promote stability in a relationship, Joanne Chang, a research fellow at Academia Sinica, said as the panel discussion was ending. Right now with sanctions in place, communications almost shut down and threats being raised from Beijing the relationship is either deadlocked or deteriorating. “The U.S. provides oxygen” to Taiwan as it did in the past to emerge as a democracy and survive after it was removed as representing China in the U.N. in 1971, she said in opening remarks. “The essence and elements are there” for a new constructive dialogue between Beijing and Taipei if China would approach it in the same way as it negotiates with North Korea. “There are different ways to say, ‘I love you'” other than applying sanctions and threatening force.

The views of China and Taiwan remain fundamentally different when it comes to cross-strait issues now, especially on unification, Ming-Hsien Wong, a professor at Tamkang University, said. Beijing sees them as internal while Taipei sees them as security. One answer to stability could come if “the U.S. [would] d widen and deepen [its] relations” with Taiwan “to keep its position in the Asia-Pacific” as a power, offsetting a rising China.

  • Allen Timothy Chang

    It’s no longer old-school ethnic Hokkien “Taiwanese nationalism.” Democracy, generational changes in identity, and a liberal court that emphasizes equal protection has created civic nationalism in Taiwan.

    • tteng

      The realpolitik of the situation is a difficult one for Taiwan. It still boils down to,

      1. If Taiwan accepts ‘1 China, 2 governance’, then Taiwan has room and time to watch China evolve, hoping for a future China that’s both confidently secure, and domestically ‘enlighten enough’ to tolerate political differences (as condition for future negotiation). If Taiwan sets on this course, then It ought to be Taiwan’s ‘national interest’ to pro-actively nudging CCP/China towards that direction.

      2. OTOH, if Taiwan decides (or naturally evolve into) on a single minded track to de jure independence. Then Taiwan government must make clear to its people, that bottom line could be: live free, and die trying if must.

      Tsai, of Taiwan, must understand, as China becomes more powerful, the geo-strategic location of Taiwan, in the context of US-China containment/accommodation contest, has evolved, from an issue of democracy and self-determination for Taiwan, into success/failure of Xi’s China to break the US China containment policy, should things come to blow between the two bigs (which surely will happen if Taiwan goes its own separate way.)

      Taiwan’s best chance/outcome is to be a successful model of a ‘China prototype’; not a ‘military high ground’ of war in the westpac.

      • Allen Timothy Chang

        The realpolitik of the situation makes me weary that things are returning to the 1930’s.

        • tteng

          The realpolitik of 1930s’ was: bigs do what they want, and smalls suffer what they must. However, today is somewhat different. While Taiwan can’t get away from China (like Czechoslovakia next to Germany), China is not quite the Germany which insisted on immediate capitulation of Czechs. Also, I don’t see emergence of Chamberlain, not yet anyway. Bottom line is: Taiwan needs time and maneuvering space for the long haul, which, IMO, only 1C2S can offer. It is not much of a choice, but it is more viable than the rest.

          • Earl Tower

            The only other option is Taiwan gets very very serious about its self defense and starts arming to the teeth. That means execution any of its own officers that sell out to the PRC for sedition, and focus on making any attempt by the PLA to take the Island an impossibility. But that will take a constant war footing. It would have to be one part Israel, one part Switzerland, and armed to the teeth. Anything short of that is not going to deter China from risking a invasive campaign at some future date.

          • tteng

            Nothing deterred the Roman empire from taking Israel (unlike today’s Israel surrounded by weaklings). Switzerland was geographically difficult to invade, strategically leads to nowhere, and most importantly, historically it stayed NEUTRAL (everything Taiwan is not today)

            Also, Tsai’s victory all came from democratic process, she thinks ‘Right makes it Might’. Realpolitical-China is a complete different ball game here.

          • EH

            I guess you really like realpolitik when your country has the advantage. However, whether or not Taiwan joins China is not a forgone conclusion as you would like people to believe. China is acting like Germany right before world war 2. This is especially true when you look at their bogus territorial claims on Taiwan and the South China Sea. It’s really nice to talk about realpolitik when you talk about China dealing with small countries like Taiwan and Philippines. However, China is also trying to bully Japan in the Senkakus, India in the Sikkim and Vietnam in the SCS. So do not be surprised when India, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam and the US join together and serve realpolitik back at you.
            If you understand China enough you’ll see that their fundamental problem is that they do not know how to respect other peoples and differing views. This is because the CCP neither respect their own citizens nor are allow differing views. Which explains why they need all that censoring.

          • tteng

            ” I guess you really like realpolitik when your country has the advantage.”

            Your sentence is mostly correct except nobody gets to like (or dislike) realpolitik (btw, my root is from Taiwan); realpolitik is directly proportional to a nation’s total wherewithal. In addition, Tsai is extending your unsaid sentiment, which goes like this, “Tsai does not like international realpolitik Taiwan is in (due to China’s advantage), she therefore wants to make it a contest of idealism (of democracy and freedom) and hoping friends will join in on the same ground”.

            Then you list about frictions between China and Japan/PH/VN/India…however, if you exam each case you will see- all these were about realpolitik issues of territorial and resource disputes, all of which potentially can be negotiated behind close door (e.g. like fence sitter, Duterte). Does Japan/India/PH/VN (a totalitarian commie like CCP) really care about Taiwan’s ‘democracy and right’, to the point of crossing sword against China? (or China will let it progress that far?). I don’t think so.

  • DaSaint

    Watch this space. China may just say, ‘hey, I can help you with N. Korea…but you’ve got to pledge non-interference when I retake Taiwan.’

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      And then lie, because the never have and never will “help” with North Korea.

      It would take a particularly stupid politician to think that a communist dictator is the kind of man to keep his word.

      • Jared

        Good luck moving forward with that kind of backwards, biased mindset.

        • muzzleloader

          It is not backwards thinking to realize that communists lie. It is rather, stupid and niave to think that they don’t.

          • Jared

            It is backwards thinking to apply such overgeneralized blanket statements to an entire country, especially one on the scale of the PRC – and it is precisely this type of intolerance for other systems which I was referring to. Thank you for just proving my point. What do you even know about communist China, other than the sensationalized propaganda crap spewed out by CNN? It’s so comforting to know that in the year 2017, we still have self-centered bigots misled by the idea that they are championing the only acceptable truth, people who look down on all other systems besides democracy, because of course, democracy is THE ONLY acceptable, “right” form of government. I mean, just look at that masterpiece currently sitting in the Oval Office. The current culmination of over 200 years of American-style democracy. I’m loving it!

          • EH

            You talk about ignorance and intolerance… yet China is the country with the “Great Firewall of China” and doesn’t tolerate different views. This is what creates ignorance. Enough said.

          • Jared

            No, not “enough said,” because, once again, you’re basing your argument on propaganda from the western media. I’d hardly call that a valuable source of credibility.

            You know, it’d be nice if you actually went to Mainland China and interacted with the people in person. You might be surprised.

          • EH

            China has a lot of censors that is a FACT not “Western Propaganda” it’s based on first hand experience. If you actually bothered traveling to China you’d know.
            I have friends living in both Beijing and Shanghai and they always keep a low profile when talking about politics. Seriously, you’d do better defending role models like Liu Xiaobo who voice their opinions peacefully and end up killed by the government instead of defending a non-elected government that constantly abuse their own people.

          • Jared

            My point was, the mainland Chinese are not as ignorant as the western media makes them out to be.
            And I have been to Mainland China in person, thank you very much.

        • FelixA9

          Yeah? How did negotiating with North Korea and Iran work out? Oops.

          • Jared

            Who are you- the Donald? Maybe we should stop making pathetic excuses and shifting responsibility to other countries. It can be like, our New Year’s Resolution, as a nation, for 2018 – “Stop blaming China for our own problems.”

            Meanwhile, while China was not helping us with North Korea, as you put it, what was the US doing in 2016? Yeah, busy dropping an excess of 26,000 bombs on the Middle East. How many bombs has China dropped? ZERO.

            Yeah, oops.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          Lol…. sweet sweet boy.

          The world needs more innocent naive people like you.

          • Jared

            If you don’t have anything substantial to rebut my arguments with, kindly shut up.

            “…sweet sweet boy”?

            I don’t take idiots seriously.

      • Earl Tower

        You are right, but we have to dance the tune to see how much we can get out of it.

  • Hugh

    Never trust the Chinese, they enter agreements, later “re-interprete” them when it suits, and say the other party is wrong. Remember the Yangtse incident, the shooting down of a Cathay Pacific airliner, enroachments into India, seizing of Tibet, and now the changed circumstances whereby the HK agreement to retain their ways for 50 years is no longer on the table!

    The Chinese ignore International Law, have gone way beyond defence, and are now ramping up for offence including with anyone who might intervene.

    And Formosa should be for the Formosans, separate from any Chinese.

    • John Locke

      Most Governments have dirty hands………..
      Never trust the Americans, they enter agreements, later “re-interprete” them when it suits. Remember the broken peace treaties and forced relocation of various Indian tribes, the shooting down of a Iranian air liner, manipulation of foreign governments (Greece, Philippines, Honduras, Cuba, Iran, Chile…..) encroachments into sovereign lands, seizing of Hawaii, and now the changed circumstances whereby the Paris agreement to curtail climate change is no longer on the
      table!

      The Americans ignore International Law, have gone way beyond defense (Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya…), and are now ramping up for offense (Trump DOD budget) with anyone who might intervene.

      And the world should be for the people, not dominated by any single ideology.

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Where are you from?

    • Jared

      The “Formosan” population you so ignorantly reference is actually comprised of 98% Han Chinese settlers- the first wave which immigrated over from the mainland in the 1600s/1700s following the collapse of the Ming Dynasty; the second wave was in 1949, after the fall of the Republic of China on the mainland. Wait, you actually thought that Taiwan was populated by people who are “native Formosans?” They’d constitute a mere 2% of the entire Taiwanese population.

      You want Taiwan to be “separate from any Chinese?”

      Maybe you should separate yourself from making these kinds of ignorant comments.

      • EH

        Being Han doesn’t mean that Taiwan must join China. By your logic U.K., USA, Australia, etc…. should all be one country.
        Taiwan is a democracy ruled by the rule of law, China is not. Taiwanese understand that their liberty and security is not guaranteed under the current Chinese system and as such completely reject China. We would rather join countries who are not of Han ethnicity but who do have democracy and rule of law than the opposite.
        Please enlighten yourself before calling other people ignorant. Your tone is not civil and you need to argue the issues and not resort to personal attacks.

        • Jared

          Unlike the previous poster I was responding to, was anything I said factually wrong?

          Albeit slightly condescending, I was merely attempting to correct a misconception that some westerners like to cling onto and push for their own convenience.

          Apologies if you found my tone “not civil,” but I am just fed up with Westerners who clearly have zero knowledge about the internal situation of Mainland China and Taiwan spew absolute bullshit about the situation to push their own agenda (which has probably been largely influenced by none other than the skewed mainstream opinion of mainland China) and end up portraying the situation as Taiwan being a completely unique/ethnically separate entity being invaded by hordes of Mainland Chinese. Complete nonsense and bullshit.

          It just goes to show that the current political situation between the PRC and the ROC is much more complex than how many westerners may perceive it to be. A lack of this basic understanding does not qualify them to comment on matters regarding Taiwan and Mainland China.

          I can understand and respect your point of view – but when you have pro-independence “green” supporters shouting abuse at members of their own ethnicity just because they are from the mainland (“Zhina,” “mainland pigs,” denial of Japanese war crimes in support of Japan – seriously, how much lower can one sink, and just an unwarranted sense of superiority and discrimination against the mainland), and generalizing that to the entire PRC population, it’s a bit hard not to harbor resentment. I obviously know that there are tons of awesome Taiwanese people out there who do not share these thoughts, but it seems like recently, negative sentiment (very often arbitrary) towards mainlanders has been increasing.

          Your point about the Great Firewall taken – but have you actually interacted with actual Mainland Chinese? In our modern society, there are multiple, various pathways of information dissemination – the Great Firewall is not the be-all/end-all distributor of news as much as the Western media would like you to believe. I have met various mainlanders and have been surprised by what they know and are aware of. Humans are not easily fooled – especially the Chinese.

          Furthermore, you cannot deny that the Western media does not have an agenda against Mainland China – the smear campaign is real.

          • EH

            It’s not hard to see that China is indeed suppressing the people of Taiwan. They refused to allow Taiwan to attend WHO meeting because Taiwanese authorities did not accept the “One China”. This points out a few reasons why the people of Taiwan dislike the policies of the CCP. First, China is playing with politics and disregarding the health of Taiwanese citizens. Secondly, China does not tolerate dissent or differences in opinion and when such differences arise. Thirdly, China only knows how to use heavy-handed tactics.

            As for DPP calling other Zhina, I agree that such offensive terms is not appropriate and should not be used. However, if you list the crimes committed by the DPP side by side with those done by the KMT, the KMT’s list would be a lot longer and much darker (although you can argue that the “times were different”). Also, DPP’s support of Japan is not the same as denial of Japan’s war crimes. Speaking of Japan, they need to answer for the crimes committed in the past. But speaking of China, they also need to answer for the millions of death committed by the CCP and stop the atrocities (which are similar to the ones committed by Imperial Japan) that continue to be done today in Tibet and against the Uighurs.

            Western media like any media is biased just look at how they talk about Trump on Fox News vs. CNN. However, they are allowed to freely express their views, I wish China allow the same. Perhaps, China is not so politically stable, and part of that instability comes from their flawed legal system which has a 99.9% conviction rate. Do you seriously believe that the CCP is correct 99.9% of the time? This illustrates how difficult it is obtain justice in China (as opposed to the US where the courts consistently blocked Trump’s Executive Orders). This is also the reason why the CCP fear instituting democracy in China. It would mean the loss of power and subject themselves to answering the crimes committed in the name of the Chinese Communist Party.

    • Hugh

      It’s a pity that the UN didn’t recognise both mainland China and Taiwan (Formosa). By comparison, hundreds of years ago Britain moved into Australia and NZ. Their native populations have survived, (and are comparatively small,) and both countries are now independent, democratic and multicultural.

  • omegatalon

    China is trading and providing advance missile designs to North Korea; to offset this, the Trump Administration should treat Taiwan like Israel and sell them everything in the US inventory including F-35 fighter jets and anti-ballistic missile systems like the THAAD.

  • John B. Morgen

    The issue about Taiwan rejoining the mainland is a lost issue because it is never going to happen. However, the United States must make it quite clear it will [not] allow China to retake Taiwan by military force. This is why China is building up a large modern navy to destroy any Taiwanese resistance, and also to intimate the United States Navy from taking action.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    .. and the Tibet, and the Vietnam, and the China Sea and the Russia and no end to it..

    We learned absolutely nothing from the “gamesmanship” of the appeasement over “natural German rights over the ownership of Czechoslovakia and how it worked so “well” for the global peace?

  • Chesapeakeguy

    This is news? The Red Chinese are ALWAYS maneuvering to get Taiwan ‘back’. They are COMMUNISTS. Taiwan represents hope for a lot of Chinese stuck under the regime on the mainland. So their efforts to subvert or ‘absorb’ Taiwan will never cease. I think the USA should be the ‘Arsenal Of Democracy” again and provide the best weapons and systems we have to Taiwan. Heck, I advocate for bringing back the ASWOCs of the Cold War days and opening one on Taiwan to be manned by allied personnel of the region. There’s no high road with communists, so why pretend?