Xi's 'China Dream' may cause trouble in Taiwan Strait: U.S. scholar

2018/07/29 14:46:39 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) / CNA file photo

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) / CNA file photo

Washington, July 28 (CNA) Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is making unification a more important component of his "China Dream," despite Taipei's pledge of peace in the Taiwan Strait and desire to preserve the status quo in cross-strait relations, according to a U.S.-based scholar in foreign and defense policy.

"Tensions are rising between Beijing and Taipei," wrote Michael Mazza, a research fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), in his article, titled "Is a Storm Brewing in the Taiwan Strait?" published by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations Friday.

Mazza linked Beijing's increasing pressure on Taiwan with Xi's vision for the future of China, or his so-called "China Dream," of which Xi has made unification an important component.

Xi "began talking about the 'great renewal of the Chinese nation' -- which, for him, requires formal unification with Taiwan -- during a speech he gave in 2012 as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party," said Mazza.

Furthermore, Mazza went on, Xi asserted at the 19th party congress last year that by mid-century, the Communist party would "develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful."

"If Xi turns out to be unable to deliver on his promises of economic prosperity for all Chinese people, as may well be the case, the other components of the China Dream will become more important," Mazza said, referring to the unification of China with Taiwan.

Citing a recent call by Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which he described as independence-minded, Mazza believes Tsai has seen what many in the West are failing to recognize: "the relationship between Taipei and Beijing is becoming untenable, and trouble is brewing in the Taiwan Strait."

In an interview with Agence France-Presse on June 24, Tsai urged the international community to "work together to reaffirm our values of democracy and freedom in order to constrain China and also minimize the expansion of their hegemonic influence."

Since elected in 2016, Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo in cross-strait relations, but her refusal to recognize the "1992 consensus" led Beijing to cut off official communication and step up intimidating measures. This has included efforts to make Taipei's diplomatic allies switch sides and increasing the pace and scope of military exercises in waters around the island.

The consensus refers to a tacit understanding between the government of Taiwan -- then the Kuomintang (KMT) -- and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is "one China," with each side having its own interpretation of what "one China" means. The DPP government rejects the idea implicit in the consensus that Taiwan is a part of China.

Mazza said Taipei has proven itself a responsible actor in East Asia and will seek to avert a potentially cataclysmic collision, "as long as doing so does not require submitting to Beijing."

However, whether Beijing will accept anything less than submission, is not at all clear, he said, warning that if Xi finds he cannot deliver on his promise of a better life for all Chinese, he may welcome a confrontation with Taipei.

"The Taiwan Strait is already known for its strong winds and choppy waters - but rougher seas lie ahead," Mazza concluded.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Elizabeth Hsu)
Enditem/AW


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