National reunification is not like buying vegetables at a farmers’ market where you can randomly bargain: experts at Global Times Annual Conference
Published: Dec 17, 2022 05:33 PM
Photo:Global Times

Photo:Global Times

"What benefits will national reunification bring to the people of the Taiwan island?" The participating experts at the 2023 Global Times Annual Conference shared their views at one of the panels that focuses on the Taiwan questions. After national reunification, Taiwan island can enjoy long-lasting stability and peace as the cross-Straits political differences can be resolved once and for all, experts said. Some others believe that Taiwan island would save at least NTD $650 billion annually for military spending and maintaining diplomatic "allie

The biggest benefit of national reunification is that Taiwan island can enjoy long-lasting stability and peace as the cross-Straits political differences can be resolved once and for all, said Wang Zaixi, former deputy director of Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits.

Wang noted that after the national reunification, the state of hostility between the mainland and Taiwan will be ended following a peace agreement. Then Taiwan can become a special administrative region under the jurisdiction of the central government.

"After reunification, the actual arms race that has long existed between the mainland and Taiwan will no longer exist," Wang said, noting that Taiwan island spends more than $10 billion a year on military spending, which could be used to improve people's lives after reunification. "Because by then, Taiwan's defense strength will be integrated into the entire national defense system and Taiwan will only need to maintain a small amount of military and police force for offshore coastal defense around the island and security inside the island."

"In the post-reunification time, Taiwan will gain larger economic development space as the common market between the two sides of the Straits will be formed naturally," Wang noted, and Taiwan will certainly enjoy more favorable terms than cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in trade with the mainland. Taiwan enterprises will share the mainland market, solving the problem of Taiwan's limited market size.

Wang continued, saying Taiwan would no longer need to squander a huge amount of money to expand its so-called "international space" after the national reunification, because Taiwan compatriots can share the same dignity that China deserves as a world power as compatriots on the mainland."

Qiu Yi, a professor with Chinese Culture University of Taiwan, said at the panel that in addition to military spending, Taiwan island also spends a lot of money every years to maintain ties with its so-called diplomatic allies, and the two abovementioned spending cost Taiwan at least NTD $650 billion every year. "Such spending is no longer needed after reunification. It's a tangible reunification dividend for Taiwan island," Qiu noted.

Qiu also said reunification will bring future and hope to young people of the island, citing broad opportunities national reunification would bring to them, including addressing unemployment and low salary. 

Zheng Boyu, vice president of the Beijing-based Taiwan Youth Council Beijing Association for Taiwan Enterprises, held a similar view. He highlighted the importance of allowing Taiwan residents feel the real benefits from national reunification given the two sides cannot acquaint information of each other directly. 

Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen keeps making Taiwan residents live in an illusion by using fancy words. If we want to break this cycle, we need to tell positive gains of national reunification to them, Zheng said. If there is no discussion of the benefits of national reunification within Taiwan at all, it will just like the two sides giving differing accounts, he noted.

However, national reunification is not like buying vegetables at a farmers' market where you can randomly bargain. We cannot say that we will carry on national reunification when there are benefits to people in the Taiwan island and we won't do that when there's no benefit, said Zhou Zhihuai, deputy director of Study and Research Committee of China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification.

"We could also ask what benefit the national reunification could bring to people in the mainland. Will people in the mainland give up the reunification process if there's no benefit to them? Apparently not," Zhou stressed.

Addressing the panel about what benefits national reunification would bring to the people of the island, Zhao Xiaozhuo, deputy director of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum Secretariat, made his point from the US angle. The two sides of the Straits suffer huge burden without reunification, and the US is exploiting this fact, bringing harm to both the mainland and the Taiwan island. 

Taiwan has always been a tool and a chess piece to the US. It has no Taiwan policy, but only China policy since its Taiwan policy always serves the interests of China policy, Zhao said. Taiwan will be abandoned when it is necessary.

Nowadays, the reason why it's seems like the US is attaching more importance to Taiwan is because the US views the mainland as a strategic competitor and it must take good use of the "Taiwan card" in its Indo-Pacific strategy, which stirs up the feelings of the Chinese people the most, Zhao noted. 

In the situation in which Taiwan continues to refuse national reunification, what Taiwan residents should be clear about is that, the path for Taiwan residents ahead will be narrower, Huang Jing, a distinguished professor from Shanghai International Studies University told the forum. 

If the status-quo of the cross-Straits situation continues without reunification, the state of Taiwan being treated as a strategic chess piece by the US would not change, meaning the US would continue to take advantage of Taiwan island. That approach will inevitably touch the core interests of the mainland, and the mainland is bound to take countermeasures, which will leave Taiwan having no security guarantee, Huang noted. 

The case of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC)'s decision to invest in cutting-edge technology in the US is an example of the US' crackdowns on China, which has diminished Taiwan's economic guarantee, Huang noted. The semiconductor industry, an economic pillar of the island, is about to be hollowed out by the US, the expert said. 

If national reunification cannot be achieved, Taiwan would not only lack of security guarantee, economically speaking, also lose its international dignity and make the island people think they are like "international orphan." The island people would immerse in a state of division, socially and culturally, even psychologically, after all they speak Chinese and have same customs and habits as the mainland people, Huang noted, adding that if these issues cannot be solved, there will be no tranquil life on the island. 

Wu Yongping, dean of Institute of Taiwan Studies from Tsinghua University also believed the national reunification will end Taiwan people's identity confusion on their country started since 1895 when the island was ruled by Japanese colonists.

Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, believed the benefits that Taiwan can gain from national reunification can also be reinforced from the point of view of Taiwan elites. 

Tian mentioned "four pillars" in his remarks - the PLA reaching the island with its military power; Taiwan's national identification and its international identification, and Taiwan's high-end industry. "If Taiwan continues to resist reunification, it will gradually lose what it has now regarding the 'four pillars'", said Tian.