‘Taiwan independence’ a dead-end, sabotages peace in Straits
Published: Jan 14, 2024 10:53 PM
A view of the Taiwan Straits is seen from Xiamen port, in East China's Fujian Province. Photo: IC

A view of the Taiwan Straits is seen from Xiamen port, in East China's Fujian Province. Photo: IC

China has made serious representations to the US over the US State Department's statement on Taiwan's regional election, and opposes the US having any form of official interaction with the island, China's Foreign Ministry stated on Sunday. As the risks of Taiwan secessionists' provocation and cross-Straits conflicts overshadow peace and stability in the Straits with Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) remaining in power, experts said it is necessary to caution the US against indulging Taiwan secessionists to prevent an unwanted clash. 

Experts believe that even if the risks of conflict in the Taiwan Straits increase in the future after Lai Ching-te won the regional election, the initiative on solving the Taiwan question firmly lies with the Chinese mainland. Once Lai crosses the red line, the mainland has both the strength and determination to resolve the Taiwan question once and for all. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is visiting Egypt, said on Sunday that anyone in the international community who violates the One China principle is interfering in China's internal affairs and infringing upon China's sovereignty, and will face the joint opposition of the Chinese people and the international community.

China firmly opposes the US having any form of official interaction with Taiwan and interfering in Taiwan affairs in any way or under any pretext. We urge the US to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués and act seriously in accordance with the commitments that have been reaffirmed multiple times by the US leaders to not support "Taiwan independence," "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," and not seek to use the Taiwan question as a tool to contain China, a spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response to the US State Department's statement on Taiwan's regional election.

We urge the US to stop interactions of an official nature with Taiwan and stop sending any wrong signal to the separatist forces for "Taiwan independence," said the spokesperson. 

US' double-faced policy

After the election concluded, former US National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley and former Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg arrived in Taipei on Sunday for post-election meetings with Taiwan politicians, media reported.

The visit of former US officials to the island of Taiwan again reveals the US' usual indulgence of Taiwan secessionists and it is sending wrong signals to those forces on the island of Taiwan, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times. Li sees the visit as another sign that the US is boosting connections with Taiwan secessionist forces to better manipulate and exploit the island to counter China. 

When asked to respond to Taiwan's regional election, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday that "We do not support independence..." without making further comments. 

Chinese experts said that Biden's response aims to warn Lai not to push "Taiwan independence" too recklessly, as the US will not sacrifice its own interests and engage in conflicts with the China for Taiwan secessionists. 

The US' policies on the Taiwan question are double-faced. On one hand, Washington does not want the Taiwan secessionists to be "troublemakers" to trigger cross-Straits conflicts, and on the other hand, Washington does not wish to see closer and warmer cross-Straits ties, as it wants to use Taiwan as tool to counter Beijing, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Saturday. 

The danger of provocation by Taiwan secessionists and the risk of increased cross-Straits tension are greater with the DPP continuing in power, therefore China needs to enhance its warnings to the US against Taiwan secessionists' provocation triggering a clash, Xin said.

Xin emphasized the need to discard unrealistic illusions about the US, as Washington has never given up using the Taiwan question as a card to thwart China's growth, and it has been doubling down on such efforts in recent years. China strives to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, but it also has to prepare for upgraded US interference in the near future. 

DPP's Lai and his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim got more than 40 percent of the total vote in the election Saturday, while Hou Yu-ih, candidate of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), and his running mate Jaw Shaw-kong garnered 33.49 percent of the vote. Third party candidate Ko Wen-je and his running mate Wu Hsin-ying of the Taiwan People's Party (TPP) received 26.45 percent of the vote, according to media reports.

Firm determination

Wang Yi, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said "Taiwan independence" seriously threatens the well-being of the Taiwan compatriots, seriously damages the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation, and will also seriously disrupt peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits. It is a dead end and a road to nowhere.  

Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office said on Saturday that the elections will not change the basic landscape and development trend of cross-Straits relations, will not alter the shared aspiration of compatriots across the Taiwan Straits to forge closer ties, and will not impede the inevitable trend of China's reunification.

"Our stance on resolving the Taiwan question and realizing national reunification remains consistent, and our determination is as firm as rock," Chen said.

DPP's vote share was over 40 percent, which also matches the previous poll that had around 60 percent voters on the island wanting to replace the DPP. But as opposition parties failed to find common ground, the general public did not vote out the DPP, Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to Zhang, cross-Straits relations are unlikely to be smooth and stable in the future, as Lai may try to push a step further toward "Taiwan independence" on the base of outgoing leader Tsai Ing-wen. 

If Lai continues to be provocative on cross-Straits relations, the mainland is bound to step up pressure on the economic, military and diplomatic fronts, Zhang said.

The overall environment is also a constraint on Lai, including 60 percent of the island's public opinion which is against him, Zhang said. Given all three parties failed to exceed half of the total number of seats in legislative authority, if the TPP chooses to cooperate with the KMT, it will form a larger force to restrain the DPP.

Although Lai's election victory may bring more risk and uncertainty to the situation in the Taiwan Straits in the future, the initiative on solving the Taiwan question still lies with the Chinese mainland. If Lai crosses the red line, the mainland has both the strength and determination to resolve the Taiwan question once and for all, Zhang added.

Taiwan region's legislative authority election was held simultaneously with the regional leadership election. Among the 113 seats in the island's "legislature," the DPP garnered 51 seats, an obvious decline comparing to the previous 61 seats, while the KMT got 52, with the TPP winning eight, according to the island's election commission.

Xin said that the DPP saw a huge decline in the number of seats won in the island's legislative authority is also a proof that the DPP's rule has disappointed many residents in Taiwan. 

The island's legislative authority election has broken the DPP's influence in the island's political spectrum, and the island's legislative authority will play a counterbalancing role in the island's policies, Li said on Sunday, saying that if the DPP pushes forward extreme policies toward "Taiwan independence," it may encounter resistance from the legislative authority of the island. 

The election result also caused a pessimistic atmosphere among the people from Taiwan who support cross-Straits peace and cooperation. Taiwan compatriots reached by Global Times reporters in Xiamen, capital city of Southeast China's Fujian Province and a hub for cross-Straits exchanges, said the DPP's victory against the KMT and the TPP cannot really reflect the true public opinion of the island. 

Chang Li-chi, a postdoctoral researcher at Huaqiao University in Xiamen, told the Global Times on Sunday that "the real public opinion in the island is to oppose the DPP's policy that has caused tensions with the mainland in recent years, and also opposes the incompetence and corruption of the DPP authorities that has caused economic depression in the island."

However, because Taiwan's election system is under the manipulation and control of foreign interference forces and some local interest groups with pro-secessionist and anti-reunification stances, the people in Taiwan are unable to effectively decide their own future. This means they easily divided into different groups, and are unable to make meaningful change to correct the wrong path of the DPP secessionists, Chang noted.