War would endanger China’s leadership
By Christian Fan Jiang 范姜提昂
Late last month, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) said at the Boao Forum that he hoped to visit Taiwan as “an authorized representative from one of two still separately ruled institutions under a single country.”
Chen’s concept of “one country, two administrations” is close to Chinese academic Chu Shulong’s (楚樹龍) “one country, two governments” or Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) “one China, same interpretation.”
China used to be opposed to “one country, two governments,” calling it a step toward Taiwan abandoning “one China.” Chen’s remarks could be interpreted as Beijing recognizing separate rule of Taiwan and China.
Should President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) respond to Chen’s remarks? Should she follow Beijing’s intentions and recognize that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one country, but without mentioning “one China”?
It is intriguing that Taiwan’s pro-unification media constantly emphasize that “one China” is nonnegotiable, but now “one China” has been replaced by “one country,” along with a proposal of “two administrations.”
Is the policy really not negotiable?
In addition, Chen’s tone when he asked Taiwan to give him a chance to visit was so unfamiliar that he almost did not sound like a communist.
Did pro-unification media not repeatedly warn that “the earth will move and the mountains will shake” if the so-called “1992 consensus” is not accepted? After interaction between Taiwan and China ceased, did Chen’s tone of voice make it sound like the earth was moving and the mountains were shaking?
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used to insist that the Taiwanese administration was merely a local Chinese government. Beijing now finally recognizing that there is “one country, two administrations” or “one country, two governments” is evidence that the claim that China will attack Taiwan if it insists it is not a local Chinese government is just something the pro-unification camp says.
China is more worried than Taiwan about the two sides going separate ways: China’s worst nightmare would be to see Taiwan pushed toward the US, Japan and South Korea camp. Beijing worries about it, and it worries a lot.
The pro-unification camp says that if Taiwan declares independence, China is sure to attack. Is that true? Despite talk by some retired Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) generals that it could take Taiwan in 100 hours, a war between the two sides would be a life-and-death struggle. Are we sure that it would be Taiwan that would die?
The PLA has not fought a war for decades. If the war does not go as planned — remember the power of the Hsiung Feng III missile that was accidentally on display last year — a small setback for the PLA could cause the Chinese leaders’ political enemies to carry out a coup and cause the CCP leadership to collapse.
CCP leaders are aware of this risk. On the eve of meetings of the Chinese National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference last month, an open letter circulated that made major accusations against Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Xi needs Taiwan just as much as Taiwan needs him. A war is a dangerous thing. Even if China were to succeed in an invasion, counterattacks by Taiwan and its allies would cause the Chinese economy to backtrack 20 years and could even destroy the CCP.
Knowing this, there is no need for Tsai to patiently tolerate Beijing’s every whim. She should just do what needs to be done.
Christian Fan Jiang is a member of the Northern Taiwan Society.
Translated by Eddy Chang