Xi Jinping could set deadline on Taiwan issue: former AIT chairman

2017/10/07 19:15:40
Richard Bush, CNA file photo

Richard Bush, CNA file photo

Washington, Oct. 6 (CNA) Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) might introduce a deadline for a resolution on Taiwan during the upcoming Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress this month, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard Bush wrote in a recent blog post.

In a post titled "What will Xi Jinping say about Taiwan at the 19th Party Congress?" Bush said the Chinese leader might introduce new elements in the country's position on Taiwan, such as a deadline for a solution to what Beijing sees as "the Taiwan issue."

"One possibility here is conveying a sense of urgency about resolving the dispute with Taiwan or even setting a deadline," said Bush, who was AIT chairman from 1997 to 2002 and currently serves as co-director of the Center for East Asia Policy Studies (CEAP) at the Brookings Institution.

He added that Xi himself hinted in a meeting with former Taiwan Vice President Vincent Siew in 2013 that "settling the dispute could not be postponed from generation to generation."

In his post, Bush also discussed what Xi would say if he wants to reaffirm China's recent policy on Taiwan. Xi, he said, would simply repeat common elements in speeches on Taiwan by Chinese leaders at past party congresses, such as the guiding principle of peaceful unification.

But if Xi does toughen Beijing's position on its Taiwan policy, for example by not restating its past guiding principle of peaceful unification, "it would widen China's options in a coercive direction," Bush argued.

It would suggest that China "would be willing to impose a solution rather than negotiate one on a mutually acceptable basis," he wrote.

Former AIT Director Douglas Paal believes that Beijing will likely take a low-key approach on Taiwan discussion during the 19th Party Congress, slated to begin Oct. 18.

Paal, speaking in Washington on Friday at a panel of scholars previewing the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress, said that based on his unofficial sources in Beijing, no tough talk on Taiwan is expected from the Chinese leader at the meeting.

Commenting on the possibility of a "4th U.S.-China Communique" emerging from an upcoming meeting between Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump, who will be touring five Asian nations in November, Paal said it was highly unlikely to happen.

The question of a fourth joint communique, which would follow the three communiques on Taiwan the U.S. and China issued from 1972 to 1982, arose in a report in the Taiwan-based Liberty Times published earlier this year.

The report, citing an unnamed source, said that former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was trying to get the United States and China to sign such a document.

Paal, who currently serves as vice president for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, expected Washington to continue to show its support for Taiwan based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), and he ruled out the scenario of a fourth joint communique.

(By Rita Cheng and Ko Lin)
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