Xi Jinping Says China Respects “Taiwan’s Social System And Way Of Life,” Then Threatens Taiwan’s “Separatists”

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The Great Hall of the People in Beijing (VOA / Wikimedia Commons)

In his keynote speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP), President Xi Jinping added a new chapter to the long history of Beijing’s carrot and stick approach towards Taiwan.

In a segment of his three-and-a-half-hour-long address to the nearly 2,3000 delegates that converged to the capital from all over China, Xi reaffirmed the CCP’s ‘one China’ policy under the leadership of the Communist Party.

Xi reiterated the CCP’s position that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are inalienable parts of China’s territory and that ‘separatist’ movements will not be tolerated. He also articulated Beijing’s long-standing carrot and stick strategy, emphasizing peace and cooperation, while threatening those who oppose the CCP’s goal of ‘reunification.’

“Since Hong Kong and Macau have returned to the fatherland, the implementation of the ‘one country, two systems‘ framework has been a success that has drawn recognition from the whole world,” Xi said. “Practice has proven that ‘one country, two systems’ has been the optimal way of solving the issue of Hong Kong and Macau, which was the legacy of history. It is also the optimal way of maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau after the handover.”

Xi reaffirmed that “it is necessary to accurately implement ‘one country, two systems’, the policy of ‘Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong’ and ‘Macau people ruling Macau’, and a high degree of autonomy” and to strictly adhere to the Basic Laws of the two regions.

Xi did not mention Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the imprisonment of Hong Kong democracy activists, or the British government’s recent criticism of the implementation of ‘one country, two systems’.

After talking about Hong Kong and Macau, Xi Jinping moved on reasserting the CCP’s policy with regard to Taiwan, which Beijing considers an integral part of its territory still to be ‘reunified’.

“Solving the Taiwan issue and completing the reunification of the fatherland is the common desire of all the sons and daughters of China, and it is in the fundamental interest of the Chinese nation,” he said. “We must continue to adhere to the policy of peaceful reunification, ‘one country, two systems’, promote the peaceful development of cross-strait ties, advance the process of peaceful reunification of the fatherland.”

“The ‘one China principle’ is the political foundation of cross-strait ties,” Xi continued. “The ‘1992 consensus‘ that embodies the ‘one China principle’ clearly delineates the basic character of cross-strait relations and is the key to maintaining peaceful cross-strait development. Only by acknowledging the historical reality of the ‘1992 consensus’ and endorsing the principle that both sides of the strait belong to one China can bilateral talks move forward, can the issues compatriots on both sides care about be discussed. No political party or organization in Taiwan can hinder relations with the mainland.”

Xi used nationalist rhetoric to justify the inevitability of reunification and depicted mainland China’s economic development as a great opportunity for Taiwanese business people.

“The compatriots on both sides of the strait are brothers and sisters, they are members of one family related by blood. We uphold the idea that ‘people on both sides of the strait are one family’, we respect Taiwan’s existing social system and way of life. We wish to take the lead in sharing with our Taiwan compatriots the opportunities offered by the mainland’s development,” he said.

Xi called for deeper bilateral economic and cultural exchanges and said that Taiwanese people will enjoy equal opportunities in study, employment and business as mainland residents, in order to “promote the welfare of the Taiwan compatriots.”

After reassuring that cross-strait ties and reunification benefit both sides, the Chinese President threatened anyone who resists Beijing’s agenda of ‘reunification’ under the leadership of the CCP.

“We will resolutely safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will not allow the historical tragedy of the country’s division to repeat itself. Any activity aimed at breaking up the fatherland will be firmly opposed by the whole body of the Chinese people,” he stated. “We are resolutely determined, have full confidence and sufficient capabilities to thwart any kind of separatist plot to achieve Taiwan independence. We will not allow any individual, any organization, any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate from China any part of its territory!”

Xi claimed that “achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the common dream of all Chinese people”, including the people of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Xi Jinping’s speech is similar in form and content to the speech that former Chinese President Hu Jintao gave at the 18th Party Congress in 2012.

Far from improving cross-strait ties, China’s assertive stance has alienated Taiwanese voters. The electoral defeat of the pro-China Guomindang in the 2016 Taiwan presidential elections and the victory of Ts’ai Ying-wen, who opposes closer ties with Beijing and refuses to endorse the ‘1992 consensus’, shows that Beijing’s agenda has no popular support in Taiwan.

According to a recent poll, an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese support Ts’ai’s China policy.

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