Who cares most about Taiwan? Straits Forum brings the answer: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 16, 2023 11:49 PM
The 15th Straits Forum kicks off in Xiamen, Fujian Province, on June 16, 2023. Photo: VCG

The 15th Straits Forum kicks off in Xiamen, Fujian Province, on June 16, 2023. Photo: VCG

The 15th Straits Forum kicked off on Friday in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, with the forum conference taking place on Saturday. It has been widely noted that more than 5,000 Taiwan attendees came upon invitation, including over 1,000 who arrived directly from the island. This is the biggest cross-Straits people-to-people exchange event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among the 5,000 Taiwan attendees are representatives from several major political parties on the island, except the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as well as representatives from various industries, community leaders, and people from trade unions, Communist Youth League organizations, women's federations, towns and counties, representing a wide range of people. The desire of people on both sides of the Straits to communicate and seek peace can be seen by the scale of the Straits Forum.

This year's forum not only continues the orientation of being nongovernmental, grassroots and extensive, but also shows two new trends. First, the forum is becoming younger. The positive role of youth in cross-Straits relations is more prominent. Second, there are more "first-time visitors." Nearly 450 young guests attended Friday's forum on site, with 303 coming from Taiwan island. More than 70 percent of attendees are new faces. 

This shows that the youth on Taiwan island is adding more vitality to cross-Straits relations. It gives people higher expectations of young people from both sides of the Straits getting to know each other and working together in the future. As a Taiwan youth who attended the forum said, "You only realize how big the world is when you cross the Straits."

Since its inauguration in 2009, the Straits Forum has been held every year despite facing all kinds of difficulties. The DPP has tried everything it could to stop it, using intimidation and threats to create obstacles to the smooth running of the forum. However, the actual result is that during the more than seven years of the DPP's rule, although official cross-Straits exchanges have virtually stagnated, civil exchanges have been steadily growing. The strong resilience of the Straits Forum is a reflection of the momentum of history represented by its internal strength.

If we try to gauge the atmosphere between the two sides of the Straits from the public opinion on the island and the narrative of the media in the US and the West, it seems to be so tense that the two sides are "on the verge of war." However, this tension is largely due to the deliberate haze spread by the DPP and some external forces for their own political interests.

Many people in Taiwan, especially the younger generation, express their astonishment when they first visit the mainland, saying, "This is how the mainland truly is." The same sentiment is being echoed at the Straits Forum, where compatriots from both sides greet each other and seek mutual understanding, ultimately presenting a shared desire for development and peace across the Straits. In this sense, the opening of the forum exposes the lies of the DPP, which is precisely why the DPP fears the forum.

Prior to the forum, the DPP authorities claimed that it was a so-called platform for a united front against Taiwan and prohibited official personnel from participating in any form. Ironically, while the island's Mainland Affairs Council threatened potential attendees from the island with its "Taiwan independence" political perspective, it hypocritically stated that cross-Straits exchanges shouldn't "involve political factors." This illogical contradiction reflects the guilty conscience of the DPP authorities. Furthermore, the DPP authorities need to recognize whom Taiwan island truly needs to engage in dialogue and exchanges with. Is it the compatriots from the mainland who share the same roots and bloodline, or the untrustworthy American and Western politicians who see Taiwan as a pawn and cannon fodder? 

The more tense the cross-Straits situation becomes, the stronger the call for peace becomes. The harder the DPP pushes for "Taiwan independence," the greater the backlash it will face. This is a paradox it can never escape. This is especially the case against the backdrop of prominent livelihood issues in the island, even though the DPP has quietly changed its tune, no longer emphasizing "resisting China to protect Taiwan" but instead advocating "peaceful protection of Taiwan," not daring to confront public opinion head-on. However, its deceitful wordplay cannot conceal its true nature of "Taiwan independence." Who truly seeks peace? Who genuinely cares for the well-being of the people in Taiwan and sincerely thinks about Taiwan's future? We believe that people will find clear and compelling answers at the Straits Forum.

Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits possess unwavering confidence and an open, transparent desire for peaceful reunification, while the political tricks of the DPP can only lurk in the dark. The resounding voices heard at the Straits Forum will repeatedly jolt the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces awake in the dead of night.