Chinese Official Says China Might Invade Taiwan If “Peaceful Reunification Takes Too Long”


Image by DrRandomFactor via Wikimedia Commons

In a recent interview Wang Zaixi (王在希), a former vice-chairman of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said that Beijing might resort to the use of force if “peaceful reunification” between China and Taiwan “takes too long”.

Wang’s statements echo the increasingly assertive stance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) towards the island since Xi Jinping took office in 2012.

In the interview Wang Zaixi stated that although the Taiwan question is a complex issue that must be resolved in the long term, there “must be a sense of urgency towards cross-strait reunification.”

Wang blamed Taiwan‘s democratic process for slowing down the prospect of a peaceful solution of the cross-strait issue, arguing that because of the transfer of power from the pro-unification to the pro-independence coalition the possibility of peaceful unification “is gradually being lost.”

In 2014 and 2015 the Guomindang, Taiwan’s pro-unification party, suffered major electoral setbacks, losing the parliamentary majority to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which rejects rapprochement with China.

Read: China-Taiwan Tensions and the Guomindang’s Existential Crisis

Wang stated that the DPP administration is slowly promoting “Taiwanese independence”. He warned that the path towards Taiwan’s de jure independence “is unfeasible and would be catastrophic for our Taiwanese compatriots”.

With regard to Taiwan’s internal politics, Wang implicitly admitted that the majority of Taiwanese voters had rejected cross-strait unification.

“There is no longer a balance of power between the pan-blue and the pan-green coalition,” he said, adding that “the Guomindang cannot effectively counter the DDP anymore” and that “Taiwanese public opinion is increasingly opposed to reunification”. The probability of peaceful reunification “has not been completely lost”, but it is “gradually being lost”, he said.

Wang signalled that although no timetable for unification can at present be set, the CCP will not tolerate the resolution of the issue to drag on for too long. He cited Article 8 of China’s Anti-Secession Law, which states that “[i]n the event that … possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Calling unification “an irresistible trend that cannot be avoided” Wang said that “the Taiwan issue has been evolving for 68 years already, it cannot be allowed to drag on for a 100 years, 1.3 billion compatriots cannot accept [this issue] to continue indefinitely”.

As to how the Taiwan issue could be solved peacefully, Wang argued that a cross-strait agreement laying out gradual steps towards unification could be reached between the two sides.

He added that mainland China hopes for “peaceful reunification”, but that the option of “reunification by force”  (武統) cannot be ruled out. “Although peace might not bring about reunification, reunification will certainly bring about cross-strait peace,” he concluded.

In recent years China has been pushing more aggressively towards cross-strait unification. At a meeting with a Taiwanese envoy in October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the solution of the Taiwan issue “cannot wait forever”.

Since at that time Taiwan was still ruled by the Guomindang, Xi’s statement was not a reaction to Taipei’s hostility, but a sign that the Chinese leader is determined to pursue a more assertive Taiwan policy than his predecessors.

Due to concerns over China’s growing military might, the Taiwanese government will increase its defence budget by 50% in 2018 and focus on developing its domestic defence industry.

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3 replies »

  1. When one studies Chinese history, one constant is persistent: A unified dynastic reign typically lasts for 2 to 3 centuries. The first few decades typically involves consolidation of power, then you have 50-100 years of peace along with improvement in wealth and power. Then you have a slow decline and decay ravaged by widespread corruption. This pattern repeats itself over and over, even when a foreign group invades and assume the mandate of Heaven, they too eventually succumb to the same pattern.

    Why does the pattern repeat itself? First, all dynastic reigns were all authoritarian structures with very little checks and balances. Second, when these dynastic reigns unifies “everything under the sky (天下)”, competition ceases, and there goes the drive for self renewal and development.

    Let’s now take a look a China’s rise over the last 30 years. China’s opening and growth and development was in huge part in response to Taiwan’s development as a member of the 4 Asian Tigers. China also used the expertise and investment from both Hong Kong and Taiwan to initiate its development. One can safely conclude that had China been unified as a singular entity, growth and development would not have been nearly as fast and successful. The mere fact that China did not unify everything under the sky helped it succeed economically.

    Remember pressure and competition forces innovation and progress. China’s speedy development and relentless pressure toward Taiwan is also forcing Taiwan to continuously renew itself and push for progress. With Taiwan’s social and political progress, hopefully it will spur China in its next stage of development out of its authoritarian trap.

    But here lies the problem: authoritarian regimes do not want to change, and authoritarian regimes will always push to extinguish any potential threat to its reign. As an example of progressive value and democracy within the greater cultural sinosphere, Taiwan’s potential influence to China dramatically outweights its size. This outsized influence is precisely the reason China is seeking to extinguish this one outlyer within the greater cultural sinosphere.

    Those that love China and love the Chinese culture please be aware: don’t fall back into the pattern of history, do not allow China to succeed in its pursue of unification of everything under the sky. The moment it succeeds, that’s when the slow decline and decay will start up once again, we all seen it before!


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