China will have better chance to solve Taiwan question in 3-5 years: experts
Published: Dec 11, 2021 05:38 PM


Although the cross-Taiwan Straits situation has become increasingly intense in 2021, the US and the Taiwan secessionist authority are unlikely to challenge the Chinese mainland's red lines and create extreme danger or war, experts said at the Global Times Annual Forum on Saturday. Some participants contended that China will have better chance to solve the Taiwan question in 3-5 years' time when it has developed overwhelming advantages against the US in the region.

"The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority on the island is unlikely to breach Chinese mainland's red lines. They see more merit in staying in power than taking excessive risks. [They know] the mainland's military superiority is obvious and US cannot be relied on," Wang Zaixi, former deputy director of Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits, told the forum, which was held in Beijing with several speakers appearing remotely, including two from Taiwan.

The DPP authority will not dare overstep five key tripwires , which would obviously cross the red lines set by the mainland and cause extreme danger in the region.These would include declaring "independence", amending their so-called "constitution," allowing US troops to be stationed on the island, joining the UN and establishing official ties with the US or Japan,  or developing nuclear weapons, said Zhou Zhihuai, director of the academic board of the Taiwan and East Asia Research Center of Central China Normal University.

The US will not allow the DPP authority to take the risk of dragging it into a regional maelstrom. If the balance of China-US power is leaning towards China within three to five years, the US may be more restrained, making the resolution of the Taiwan question more straightforward, said Shen Dingli, a professor from Fudan University's Institute of International Studies, at the forum.

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, expressed some concern over the situation despite believing that relevant parties are unlikely to act irrationally.

The US may become irrational and force the Chinese mainland to act and retaliate to its provocations, because hawkish anti-China politicians are becoming more influential in Washington, he told the forum via video link. 

Another risk is from the island of Taiwan itself. "If the DPP faces difficulties in the next election in 2024, it's likely to create trouble and further unbalance the current situation, as the political environment in Taiwan is too ideologically-driven and politicized," Jin noted, stressing that this could also force the mainland to take actions.

Wang also acknowledged that there are risks and they are increasing. "The result of boosting 'Taiwan independence' is to accelerate the reunification process. It has been a long-term US policy to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Straits," he said. "But now US wants to provoke Chinese people on both sides of the Straits to attack each other and slow down China's development."

Chiu Yi, a former "lawmaker" in Taiwan and a Taiwan-based pro-reunification scholar, said via video link at the forum that, Tsai Ing-wen, the head of the DPP and the regional leader of the island, will not declare de jure "independence," but she has made promoting secession a reality. Due to factors such as the island's elections and US sending wrong signals, she will not make the right decision and try to touch the red line.

Experts agree that extreme dangers including a war remains unlikely in the short term despite there still being risk, with most believing that the Chinese mainland is controlling the development of the cross-Taiwan Straits situation, and it's the only actor with strength to launch a massive operation to solve the Taiwan question once and for all when necessary.

Jin said, "If the Taiwan authorities want to push a peaceful solution with the mainland, or the US wants to reach an agreement with China peacefully on the matter, they should do it as soon as possible," otherwise there is nothing they can get via negotiation in the near future when China doesn't need to consider any compromise to realize a peaceful ending to the Taiwan question.