Taiwan firm against calls for unification

Taipei – Taiwan has firmly rejected Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for cross-strait unification under the “one country, two systems” model, saying the proposal was unacceptable on the self-ruled island.

In a statement issued on Tuesday in response to Xi’s National Day address, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged Beijing to understand that the self-ruled island had never been a part of the People’s Republic and that Taipei would never approve of one country, two systems.

“For the past 108 years, the Republic of China has remained a sovereign state that has pursued democracy and economic prosperity. The Chinese communist authorities must accept the international reality that Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic since its formation [in 1949],” the council said.

“[Beijing’s] one country, two systems proposal for managing cross-strait relations is not applicable in Taiwan and will never be accepted by the Taiwanese people.”

During his National Day address, Xi called for continued efforts to realize the complete reunification of the country.

Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) expressed regret over Xi’s failure to understand the feeling of Taiwanese people who saw the implementation of one country, two systems in Hong Kong as disastrous.

“We will never accept one country, two systems, and strongly oppose Taiwanese independence. We support promotion of cross-strait exchanges under the 1992 consensus that calls for one China but with separate interpretations [of what ‘one China’ means],” the KMT said.

“Regretfully, Xi Jinping’s speech appears to show that he has not taken note of the changes in the cross-strait situation in the past nine months.”

Resentment has grown in Taiwan since Xi proposed in January that one country, two systems – the constitutional principle under which Hong Kong retains its own political, legal, economic and financial systems – was an option for talks with Taipei on cross-strait unification.

The KMT also lashed out at the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, accusing it of increasing anti-mainland sentiment and public hostility towards Beijing because of an ideological commitment to independence for the island. It said the Tsai government must also take responsibility for the cross-strait stalemate.

But analysts said Xi’s tone during the speech was moderate and conventional, and appeared to be an effort not to irritate either the Taiwanese people ahead of its presidential election or the population of Hong Kong people amid unrest in the city.

“The brief and concise comments on cross-strait relations by Xi in his National Day address maintain the basic tone of his cross-strait policy that the two sides must reunify by peaceful means and that one country, two systems is the option for such unity,” said Wang Kung-yi, a professor of political science at Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

“No words of a deadline for cross-strait unification were mentioned. Nor did Xi say anything critical about the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party government’s efforts to promote anti-mainland sentiment in Taiwan.”

Wang said that overall Xi’s comments indicated that there was no change in his policy in dealing with Taiwan.

“At least within his tenure of the 19th [Communist Party] congress [which ends in 2022], Xi is unlikely to resort to extreme action to try to bring Taiwan back to the mainland fold,” Wang said.

Chao Chien-min, dean of the College of Social Sciences at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, said Xi was aiming to play safe ahead of January’s presidential election and in the face of growing confrontations in Hong Kong.

“But he is not aware that mentioning one country, two systems is unacceptable for Taiwanese and Hong Kong people and could further backfire in both Taiwan and Hong Kong,” Chao said, adding that the DPP would use this to help Tsai in her re-election bid. (SCMP)