Taiwan pro-independence forces play Trump card

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/20 0:28:39

Pro-independence forces encouraged by Trump: expert

Pro-independence forces in Taiwan are taking advantage of the confusion caused by US President-elect Donald Trump but they could face economic sanctions from the Chinese mainland if they keep whipping up sentiment hostile to the one-China consensus, according to analysts.

Chang Hsiao-yueh, head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, on Monday said at a plenary session of the interior-affairs committee under Taiwan's "Legislative Yuan" that "threatening words does no help to cross-Straits ties and the island hopes to maintain stable and peaceful developments on both sides," Taiwan-based China Times reported on Monday.

Chang said that the mainland has always applied a carrot and stick policy toward the island. His words came in response to comments from former deputy commander of the Nanjing military region Wang Hongguang, who said that military conflicts would occur between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan by 2020 at an annual meeting of the Global Times on Saturday in Beijing.

Liu Xiangping, head of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Nanjing University, slammed Chang's comments about the mainland's policy on Taiwan as "very irresponsible."

Liu said that Wang's comments were based on the Anti-Secession Law as well as the current situation of cross-Straits ties.

"Wang's comments also reflect a growing concern in the mainland over 'Taiwan independence' given the strong pro-independence sense of current leading groups," said Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China.

Not revisiting policy

According to Liu, pro-independence forces in Taiwan were encouraged recently by US President-elect Donald Trump after his phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen where he referred to Tsai as the "Taiwan president." 

Former Taiwan "vice-president" Lu Hsiu-lien said Monday that there was hope that the next US government would rethink their relationship with Taiwan after the call.

Trump made another surprising remark about the Taiwan question last week during an interview on the Fox News network, saying "I do not know why we have to be bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."

Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus denied on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that Trump would revisit Washington's decades-old one-China policy after Obama warned Trump in the conference not to incur Beijing's "very significant" reaction.

"We are not suggesting that we are revisiting the one-China policy right now," Priebus said, adding that Trump was not president right now and he was respectful to the current president.

However, Ni Yongjie, vice director of the Shanghai Institute for Taiwan Studies, said that Priebus' words should not be taken as a sign that Trump was stepping back on the Taiwan question given his recent assignment of several hawkish officials.

Jin said that Sino-US ties would become strained after Trump takes office.

Economic slump

Recent comments by US President Barack Obama and Trump's questioning of the one-China policy have created a favorable situation for Taiwan, Taiwan-based Central News Agency reported on Sunday, citing Wu Rwei-ren, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of Taiwan History.

However, Ni warned that Trump is only using Taiwan as a bargaining chip to gain advantage in cooperation, especially in trade, with China.

Jin said that it is very possible that the mainland would impose sanctions on Taiwan by suspending economic cooperation and compressing its international space if cross-Straits ties keep worsening.

Liu added that Taiwan pro-independence forces will hurt the interests of Taiwan eventually if they sacrifice cross-Straits ties in seeking support from the US.

"Without mainland support, it is impossible for the island to complete an industrial upgrade," Liu noted, adding that the Taiwan economy would end up in a long-term slump if a standoff is incurred.


Newspaper headline: Taiwan plays Trump card


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