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Xi to Tighten Taiwan Policy

icon2016/05/23
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 A Commentary

Xi to Tighten Taiwan Policy

By Kuo Cheng-lung (郭崇倫)

Source: United Daily News

May 23, 2016

In the three days following President Tsai ing-wen’s May 20 inaugural address, the Mainland has continually raised the stakes in the showdown on cross-Strait relations.   In the first hour after Tsai’s inaugural address, Mainland scholars stated that Tsai’s address “showed goodwill to the Mainland and created conditions for an ice-breaking in cross-Strait relations.”  However, in the fourth hour after Tsai’s address, the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under the Mainland’s State Council, stated that Tsai’s address was an incomplete answer sheet to the test, and on May 21, the TAO pointed out that the consultations mechanism between the Mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) would be cut off without the foundation of the “1992 Consensus.”

 

The Mainland’s response to Tsai’s inaugural address is in stark contrast to yesteryear.  Many people might think that Mainland is in the midst of a predicament on how to deal with Taiwan.  Two examples may clarify the development of recent cross-Strait relations.    

 

First, Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of Mainland China, once referred to Taiwan’s Constitution while in the US.   When asked by the media the day after Wang made those remarks, Tsai Ing-wen stated that she would watch to see whether or not more Mainland figures would refer to the ROC’s Constitution. 

 

However, Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Li Keqiang (李克強), Premier of the Mainland, and Xi Jinping (習近平), General-Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), all stated that the “1992 Consensus” was the foundation of the current status quo in the cross-Strait relations and did not refer to the ROC Constitution.   Wang’s remarks about the ROC Constitution were apparently authorized by high-echelon Mainland authorities as he did not face any punishment.

 

The second example involves the National People Congress, during which Xi reiterated that the Mainland’s Taiwan policy remained unchanged.

 

In the past two weeks, it was said that the political struggle within the CCP has intensified.  The People’s Daily carried an article written by a “pundit” criticizing Premier Li Keqiang’s fiscal and economic policies.  In the beginning of this year, several provincial commissars expressed strong support for Xi, dubbed as the “Xi Core.”     Other provincial commissars who also serve as members of the Central Politburo of the CCP opposed such personal worship of Xi.

 

Xi has reached the peak of power in Mainland China, controlling all important task forces within the party.  Each task force led by a standing member of the Central Politburo of the CCP must report to Xi.  It was rumored that Xi intended to abolish so-called “cross-generation succession (meaning skipping one generation).”  In other words, Hu Chunhua (胡春華) and Sun Zhengcai (孫政才) assigned by Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as the leaders of the next generation in the 17th National Congress of the CCP would not become standing members of the Central Politburo of the CCP.   Xi wanted his own men to become standing members of the Central Politburo of the CCP.   Xi might even want Wang Qishan (王岐山) to stay in the Central Politburo beyond mandatory retirement age to serve in the post, which could cause strong opposition within the CCP.

 

Before the end of this year, it was a key moment for deciding standing members of the Central Politburo of the CCP.  Those who supported or opposed Xi would do their best to fight against each other.   Those who supported Xi used anti-corruption as their weapon.  Those who opposed Xi considered Taiwan and Hong Kong issues as their hidden tools.  If Xi failed to deal with the arrangement of the standing members of the Central Politburo of the CCP, Xi might not be able to handle the rising nationalism ignited by those who opposed Xi.      

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