Term expansion for Xi could mean long-term gain for China: expert

2018/03/12 20:04:56 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Xi Jinping (習近平/CNA file photo)

Xi Jinping (習近平/CNA file photo)

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) China's abolition of two-term limits for its presidents suggests that China is trying to forge a strategy of long-term gain in terms of Taiwan, a China expert said Monday.

Although many people consider Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to be an expert on Taiwan, this does not mean he is friendly toward the country, Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), a former acting chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said in a radio interview.

Xi's remarks at the Communist Party of China's 19th National Congress implicitly point to a "unification timetable," and his ambition of achieving "China's dream" emphasizes unifying national sovereignty and having Taiwan return to the "motherland," Kao said.

Now, with the scrapping Sunday of presidential term limits, Xi will have more time to deal with Taiwan instead of feeling pressured to fix the issue by 2023, when his second term was originally due to end.

"This change has also allowed Taiwan to heave a sigh of relief," he said.

However, Taiwan will come under growing pressure, with China getting stronger in all fields, he said, given that the recent incentives put forth by Beijing to entice talent from Taiwan might end up hollowing out Taiwan's industry.

As had been widely anticipated, the National People's Congress approved constitutional amendments earlier Sunday to allow Xi to rule China without term limits -- a move deemed as paving the way for giving Xi a lifetime mandate.

As China moves toward a dictatorship of one-man rule, it will definitely push Taiwan further away, according to one political source who asked not to be identified.

Over the past two years, China has unilaterally escalated tension in the region by allowing its warships to pass through waters near Taiwan and letting its warplanes to fly in and out of the flight information zones of Japan and South Korea, acts which, no matter whether they are aimed at shifting Chinese people's attention away from internal affairs or at achieving Xi's "China dream," will only create more uncertainty in the region, the source said.

Once China's unpredictability increases and its political rationale decreases under a one-man dictatorship, Taiwan naturally will feel much greater need to beef up its security through collective defense cooperation, the source analyzed.

As long as Beijing moves toward a dictatorship, it will challenge the "red line" that Taiwan's people harbor about democracy and fan their distrust and misgivings about China, which will negatively affect long-term interaction between the two sides, according to the source.

Asked how Taiwan could best deal with the changes in regional development, the source suggested that the government should strengthen its macro-economy and cement its security momentum to fill the void left by the China-friendly policy of the administration of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

(By Yeh Su-ping, Chai Sze-chia and Flor Wang)
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