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

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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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