January 2, 2019
Imagine caring about this.
I do care about it on an observational level, because it feels like history coming alive, something less boring.
But imagine sitting there and thinking “OH NO NOT TAIWAN…!”
China reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control but will strive to achieve peaceful “reunification” with the self-ruled island, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive issue and is claimed by Beijing as its sacred territory. Xi has stepped up pressure on the proudly democratic island since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became president in 2016.
Xi spoke at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 40th anniversary of a key Taiwan policy statement. He said “reunification” must come under a one-China principle that accepts Taiwan as part of China, anathema to supporters of Taiwan independence.
The vast majority of Taiwan’s people are aware that Taiwan independence would lead to a “grave disaster,” Xi said.
“China won’t attack Chinese people. We are willing to use the greatest sincerity and expend the greatest hard work to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification,” Xi said.
“We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures” to achieve this goal and prevent Taiwan independence, he added.
This, though, was aimed at foreign forces who seek to interfere and the tiny minority of Taiwan independence forces and their activities, Xi said without elaborating in what was likely a reference to the United States, Taiwan’s strongest backer.
There was no immediate reaction from Taiwan’s government.
Xi sought to reassure people in Taiwan that there was nothing to fear from Chinese rule, even though most people there have shown no interest in being run by autocratic Beijing.
“After peaceful reunification, Taiwan will have lasting peace and the people will enjoy good and prosperous lives. With the great motherland’s support, Taiwan compatriots’ welfare will be even better, their development space will be even greater,” Xi said.
Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China, said on Tuesday China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect its democratic values.
Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in recent years and has heaped pressure on the island internationally, including whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.
Xi is a great man in the classic sense.
A man of history.
Trump is also, so they should be able to work together to find common solutions that work for both countries.
All other US presidents would have preferred to save Taiwan than America, but if Trump vows not to interfere with China’s loving and peaceful reunification with Taiwan, that is a huge negotiating chip in the whole trade war situation. Taiwan is much more important to Xi than ripping off America on trade at this point in history.
China is a functional country that is not required to rely on exports to survive. Xi is going for greatness and great historical relevance.
And China is entering a new phase.
For those unawares, Taiwan is a part of China that was supported by the West and broke off after the revolution, with the government of that island claiming to be the official government of China.
Funnily enough, it was actually occupied by Filipinos – or genetic Filipinos – before the Spanish gave it to the Chinese in the 17th century.
Almost the entire population is Han Chinese, and it has been considered a part of official China by the People’s Republic of China since the 1940s.
They had previously been slightly more developed than the rest of China, but at this point, that isn’t really a thing. Mainland China has caught up.
There is no way Trump can do a thing like he did in Korea with Taiwan, as unlike the South Koreans, Taiwanese have no desire to reunify with the mainland. However, if no Western power intervenes, there is nothing really that Taiwan can do. It is a small country.
The US military pulled out of the island when relations normalized with the PRC in the 70s, so there is nothing stopping the Chinese military from peacefully waltzing in and just saying “you’re China again now.”
This could end up being one of the main spectacles of 2019.