On June 30th, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged on to complete “reunification” with Taiwan and vowed to “smash” any attempts at formal independence.
“Solving the Taiwan question and realising the complete reunification of the motherland are the unswerving historical tasks of the Chinese Communist Party and the common aspiration of all Chinese people,” Xi said in a speech on the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.
“All sons and daughters of China, including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, must work together and move forward in solidarity, resolutely smashing any ‘Taiwan independence’ plots.”
In response, Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said while the Communist Party had achieved “certain economic development”, it remained a dictatorship that trampled on people’s freedoms, and should embrace democracy instead.
“Its historical decision-making errors and persistent harmful actions have caused serious threats to regional security,” it added.
Taiwan’s people have rejected the “one China principle”, which states the island is part of China, and Beijing should abandon its military intimidation and talk with Taipei on an equal footing, the council said.
“Our government’s determination to firmly defend the nation’s sovereignty and Taiwan’s democracy and freedom and to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait remains unchanged.”
While China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, Xi called for a process of “peaceful reunification”.
In recent years, China has become more assertive in its claims over Taiwan, and there have been numerous entries into Taiwan’s air defense zone by Chinese warplanes in 2021.
Taiwan has also become a contentious issue between the United States and China. The U.S. has in recent years moved closer to Taiwan — angering Beijing, which considers the island to have no rights to conduct its own diplomacy.
A former Singapore senior diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, said Taiwan is the “most dangerous” flashpoint in the relationship between the U.S. and China.
“During the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, which lasted for 40 years, nuclear deterrence kept the peace at least between the two principals. I think it will again keep the peace between the U.S. and China,” Kausikan said.
Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and an astute China watcher, said unifying Taiwan with the mainland remains an “unfinished business” of the CCP.
He said the Chinese military has planned for years to secure Taiwan’s “return,” and China could make a move if President Xi Jinping is reappointed as leader of the party and country at a CCP congress late next year.
“I think what we’ll then be moving into is a period which China will be looking at its options to leverage Taiwan back into a form of a political union with China by the time we get to the late 2020s and into the 2030s,” Rudd said. “And that’s when I believe it does get dangerous for us all.”
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