United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 21, 2015
Executive Summary: Recently the CCP announced that it would be holding military exercises off the coast of Fujian, once again touching sensitive nerves on Taiwan. As it has in the past, Beijing issued an official statement, saying "This was merely a routine exercise". But it went a little overboard in its clarification. The Global Times, the CCP party newspaper, quoted a military expert who said that the live-fire exercises "cannot be referred to in the same terms as the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis."
Full Text Below:
Recently the CCP announced that it would be holding military exercises off the coast of Fujian, once again touching sensitive nerves on Taiwan. As it has in the past, Beijing issued an official statement, saying "This was merely a routine exercise". But it went a little overboard in its clarification. The Global Times, the CCP party newspaper, quoted a military expert who said that the live-fire exercises "cannot be referred to in the same terms as the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis."
Taiwan has sensitive ears. In response, Beijing has learned to fine tune its public statements. It no longer shouts at the top of its voice. Instead it has learned to play the "acknowledge" and "deny" game. Just listen to the wording of its denial: "cannot be referred to in the same terms as the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis." In fact, no one asked about 1996. Instead Beijing brought 1996 up itself.
In 1996, Jiang Zemin realized he could not trust Lee Teng-hui. He ordered missiles fired into a no fly zone. Unarmed missiles were fired into the sea just off the north and south coasts of Taiwan. The result merely boosted voter support for Lee Teng-hui. During the 2000 election, Zhu Rongji once again engaged in intimidation. Chen Shui-bian inadvertently benefited. These fiascoes helped Beijing understand the psychology of the Taiwan public, to understand the recklessness of the masses, and to realize that intimidation will only backfire.
History is repeating itself. A third pro-Taiwan independence candidate will probably win the general election. Beijing no longer has any desire to overturn the boat inside the gutter. During the National People's Congress in March, Xi Jinping said, "Without a solid foundation, the earth will move". His tone was mild. It lacked any trace of rancor. As a result it was even more inscrutable.
This does not mean that Beijing is willing to tolerate the din generated by Taiwan independence advocates. Taiwan independence passions today are the highest they have been in history. The Sunflower Student Movement precipitated a wave of anti-[Mainland] China hatred. Lee Teng-hui openly declared that the mother country of the Taiwan people is Japan. Beijing realizes it cannot control Taiwan by itself. Taiwan is controlled in part by the US and Japan. The CCP realizes that for the near future the Mainland will be approaching the home stretch, and that the only obstacles in its way are the United States and Japan.
The 1996 missile crisis and the 2005 anti-secession law show that Beijing considers military reunification a last resort. In 2010, Mainland China surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy. Analysts predicted Mainland China would eventually surpass even the US. As a result, the Chinese Communist Party's global and cross-Strait perspective dramatically changed. The new Politburo realized that economics is the ultimate weapon. As long as the industrial and technological center of gravity shifts toward China and away from the United States, the world's knowledge, talent, and markets will undergo a paradigm shift. The winds will blow from the East instead of the West. Military power will be secondary in importance.
Beijing's recent moves make this change in perspective obvious. The M503 flight path and the reissuing of MTPs as smart cards were both intended to do away with the adversarial mentality on both sides of the Strait. The former was intended to promote the demilitarization of the Taiwan Strait. The latter was intended to tear down the fence between the two sides. These are consistent with Beijing's global strategy of "peaceful development". Military power will of course not be ruled out. But it has been demoted from the head table to the guest table. In its quest to be first among nations, peace will be Beijing's first resort.
Therefore, the recent military exercises are merely warning. CCTV broadcast them in July. Only later did observers recall the Zhu Er He military exercise. A replica of the presidential palace in Taipei was visible. But no departures were made from the regular training pattern. The Maritime Safety Administration in Fujian announced a small-scale no-fly zone for artillery drills below 8000 meters. These served only one purpose, to remind Taiwan to be afraid, lest leaders on Taiwan become too impulsive and make an unexpected move, undermining Mainland China's drive down the home stretch.
Taiwan now has two options. One. Become an active participant as the Mainland makes its drive down the home stretch. Share the fruits of that final mile. Two. Remain a pawn of the United States and Japan, as they attempt to “contain” Mainland China, and become willing cannon fodder rather than see the light.
The United States strongly supports Abe's new "Security Law". As one can imagine, Mainland China and the United States will become caught in a fierce struggle. The US is a regional hegemon and long-term global hegemon. The United States defeated Wilhelmine Germany, Nazi Germany, and the Japanese Imperial Army. It used the Cold War to implode the Soviet Union. It apparently intends to dispense with Mainland China in the same fashion. Taiwan is an wonderfully convenient strategic pawn. The United States may reward it or use it as bait. Can Taiwan continue to hide in the cracks between the United States and Mainland China? Voters during the coming election, and the new president next year will have to decide.
北京的官式說法一如以往：「這只是一次例行性的演習」， 但這次澄清稍微加碼，中共黨報「環球時報」找來一位軍事專家說， 這個實彈演習「與一九九六年的台灣海峽飛彈危機， 完全不能同日而語。」
它不再是大剌剌地吆喝，而是學會了玩弄「承認」與「否認」 之間的曖昧。仔細聽這句否認之詞：它「 與一九九六年的台灣海峽飛彈危機」不可同日而語； 其實並沒有人問起一九九六年， 一九九六年卻被不著痕跡地帶了進來。
直接以劃定飛彈彈著禁制區的方式， 在台灣南北外海射出沒有炸藥的空心彈；其結果， 反而幫李登輝凝聚了選票。兩千年大選，朱鎔基再次出聲恫嚇， 又讓陳水扁得利。經過兩次笨拙的演出後， 北京重新理解台灣的民眾心理，領略了群眾的盲動性，悟出「 恫嚇只會適得其反」的道理。
當第三位獨派路線的候選人又將可能贏得台灣的大選時， 北京不能再在這個題目上陰溝裡翻船了。習近平在三月人大會議上， 只是淺淺一句：「基礎不牢，地動山搖」，他聲調平淡，並不激昂、 更非疾言厲色，卻反更讓人難以捉摸。
當前台獨主張在台灣內部的聲勢正達到歷史的最高水位， 太陽花示威催化反中浪潮， 老邁的李登輝毫不遮掩地公開販賣日本祖國論。然而， 北京已意識到，台灣已非一個可以獨自操控全局的自變數， 而是一個附屬於美日的因變數。中共清楚， 此刻以及往後的一段年月，正是中國的最後一哩路， 而橫在這一哩路上的障礙，只有美、日。
可視為北京仍將軍事力量作為統一最終倚恃的證據； 但當中國大陸在二○一○年超越日本成為全球第二大經濟體， 並被預言終將超越美國成為最大經濟體時， 中共的全球視野與兩岸思維顯已大舉翻轉。 新的中央政治局似乎體認到：經濟才是最後的決勝武器； 只要工業與科技重心從美國移到中國，世界知識、 人才與市場都會發生典範轉移，西風改吹東風時， 軍事將只是旁枝末節。
三航路的劃設，台胞證的卡式化，目的都在泯除兩岸的心理邊界， 前者意在推動台海非軍事化，後者則是兩岸去藩籬化。這些， 皆符合北京全球戰略指針——「和平發展」； 軍事當然不可能真被廢除，但它已從決定性的主桌上， 換坐到次要的客席。在奪取世界第一的旗幟前， 和平都將是目空一切的王道。
但稍後才被觀察者網刻意提點的朱日和軍演， 雖出現台北總統府的複製品，卻不脫常規性的訓練格局； 此次在福建由海事局公告小範圍的演習禁航區， 則僅有高度八千呎的火砲小規模演練。它們都只有一個用意： 提醒台灣心存一絲忌憚，免得民心太過躁動，作出意外之舉， 破壞了中國走向世界第一的最後一哩路。
在下一個歷史階段，中、美角力將日趨激烈。 作為區域霸權與長期的全球單一霸主， 美國曾藉著戰爭收伏了威廉德國與納粹德國，殲擊了昭和皇軍， 並藉著冷戰瓦解了蘇聯；它對付中國，顯然亦復如此。 台灣恰巧是一顆絕妙的戰略棋子， 美國可能提供的獎賞也將更為誘人。 但台灣能否繼續在美中之間左右逢源，或究竟該作何選擇， 這次大選的選民與明年的新總統恐怕都要明辨而慎斷！