Xi Jinping's Remarks: A Level-Headed Reading
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 30, 2014
Summary: One can advocate national reunification. One can advocate Taiwan
independence. But everyone must understand that Taiwan is not Hong Kong.
Hong Kong's sovereignty was transferred by the British to the People's
Republic of China. Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to the Republic of
China. As such, the ROC's existence and development is a given. Taiwan
must respect itself. Only then can it win the respect of the other side.
Putting one's future in the hands of others is not the way. What Taiwan
needs is not independence, but self-reliance. It needs strength, not
arrogance. It needs to cooperate with the Mainland, on behalf of
national reunification, national rejuvenation, and the early realization
of the Chinese Dream. That is the correct option.
Full Text Below:
On the 26th of this month, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping addressed a delegation of nearly 60 individuals from 24 Taiwan-based groups that support peaceful reunification. His mention of the term "one country, two systems" attracted considerable attention and a range of interpretations. In fact, his remarks were the result of long planning. Beijing had a definite agenda. According to media reports and on scene participants, Xi's remarks can be interpreted several ways. Some say that peaceful development is the process, peaceful reunification is the goal, and one country will be the final result. Xi's remarks had a deeper meaning. Some think Xi merely reiterated past policy. Perhaps this means that Beijing's position on certain matters will change. Some feel his remarks revealed weakness, and were disappointed.
Other governments and Taipei are concerned about the term "one country, two systems." In recent years, Beijing has come to realize that there is no market for one country, two systems on Taiwan. The term has been stigmatized. As a result, when referring to the one China framework, Beijng does not use the term one country, two systems as often as it did before. During the current legislative session, the DPP demanded that the Ma Ying-jeou government take a stand on the matter. Foreign reporters also probled for Xi's meaning. Some on Taiwan think Beijing is saber-rattling, as a warning to the DPP. Some say Beijing is tightening up its policy towards Taiwan. They say Xi's remarks are closely related to the current situation in Hong Kong. Some think the situation is serious, and that Beijing intends to propose a timetable for reunification. People hold a wide range of views. One meeting, different interpretations.
General Secretary Xi's remarks to visitors had both symbolic and substantive meanings.
First consider the symbolic meaning. The CCP probably knows that given the current political and social clmate on Taiwan, advocating reunification, national prosperity, and national strength, is out of favor, and even actively suppressed. Beijing has deliberately greeted these guests in a high profile manner. It is offering them encouragement and support. It is hoping that they will continue to be a mainstay. It hopes the public on Taiwan will cherish the spirit of patriotism, which currently hangs by a thread. It hopes to strengthen those advocating reunification on Taiwan, and change the way people think, contributing to early reunification. The CCP naturally supports groups that advocate reunification. But care must be taken in future implementation. Excessive intervention in Taiwan's internal affairs will probably not be required, and could be adverse and counterproductive.
Now consider the substantive meaning. Beijing expressed its position full with Xi's remarks. In the past it has referred to the two sides being one family, to peaceful development, and to peaceful reunification as its basic policy. Beijing is not about to give up on national reunification. It is convinced that national reunification is the final destination for Chinese people on both sides of the Strait, and is in the best interests of the public on Taiwan. The two sides can cooperate, and achieve the Chinese Dream sooner, rather than later. General Secretary Xi used the term one country, two systems. But he also said Beijing would consider political realities on Taiwan. It would consider views and suggestions from all sectors. As long as it can achieve national reunification, everything can be discussed. He even reaffirmed Beijing's position regarding the DPP. Past conduct does not matter. As long as the DPP comes to its senses, bygones will be bygones. These were all reiterations of past policies. Overall, Xi Jinping's remarks expressed goodwill, patience, and tolerance. The Mainland faces a multitude of domestic and international challenges. Beijing has no intention of making significant adjustments to cross-Strait policy in the short term.
Everyone on Taiwan, from top to bottom, considers one country, two systems unacceptable. Everyone knows why. In recent years, Beijing has made fewer references to one country, two systems. That does not mean that its basic position has changed. Xi's use of the term may have given people a start. But the Mainland's Taiwan policy remains within bounds. We have no cause to overreact. As far as the Republic of China is concerned, the pursuit of national reunification should not be a problem. The focus should be on the two sides' timing, manner, and preconditions for reunification. One country, two systems is far more relaxed than federalism. But in the face of the CCP's one country, two systems offensive, Taipei has three options. The best option for Taiwan and the rest of China, is to seek a more reasonable model for reunification. The next best option is to clarify the meaning of the term one country. It must be interpreted in a way more favorable to Taiwan. The worst option is to accept one country, two systems in part. This has not happened. If Taipei is eventually forced to accept one country, two systems as currently defined, that would not be reunification. That would be annihilation. Everyone in the ROC, from top to bottom, considers that totally unacceptable.
One can advocate national reunification. One can advocate Taiwan independence. But everyone must understand that Taiwan is not Hong Kong. Hong Kong's sovereignty was transferred by the British to the People's Republic of China. Taiwan's sovereignty belongs to the Republic of China. As such, the ROC's existence and development is a given. Taiwan must respect itself. Only then can it win the respect of the other side. Putting one's future in the hands of others is not the way. What Taiwan needs is not independence, but self-reliance. It needs strength, not arrogance. It needs to cooperate with the Mainland, on behalf of national reunification, national rejuvenation, and the early realization of the Chinese Dream. That is the correct option.