Taiwan authorities shouldn't ignore, distort or manipulate mainland's goodwill of peaceful reunification
Published: Feb 26, 2024 09:03 PM
The Fujian Coast Guard organizes a flotilla and conducts a law enforcement patrol in waters near Kinmen on February 25, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of the China Coast Guard

The Fujian Coast Guard organizes a flotilla and conducts a law enforcement patrol in waters near Kinmen on February 25, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of the China Coast Guard

On February 14, 2024, during the Chinese New Year, an accidental tragedy suddenly occurred in the waters near Kinmen Island and Xiamen. 

A vessel of the Taiwan authorities aggressively chased and collided with a mainland fishing boat in waters unilaterally declared by the Taiwan island as "prohibited or restricted waters," causing four mainland fishermen aboard to fall into the water, resulting in the unfortunate deaths of two of them. 

People from the Chinese mainland were appalled by the accident. Yet the bigger shock continued to come - the Taiwan authorities refused to provide evidence, distorted facts and disseminated false information, which definitely made Chinese people on the mainland astonished and angry.

It first claimed that the move was "firm enforcement of the law," and the mainland's ship capsized on its own. Yet after the surviving fishermen revealed the truth, the Taiwan authorities hurriedly changed the wording and admitted there had been multiple collisions. Then, they shifted the blame, saying the mainland's ship capsized because its stern collided with the bow of the Taiwan vessel. They even used the phrase "rescue explanation of the overturned mainland speedboat" at a press conference, making the accident sound like the mainland fishing boat had accidentally capsized and Taiwan's vessel was there to rescue, blatantly spreading false information. 

This disgusting, outrageous, irresponsible and crude behavior sparked strong flames of fury among mainland people, leading to a huge amount of anger being expressed online. 

For a long time, various parties, including figures within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and pundits in the pro-separation media outlets, have been indifferent to and ignored the mainland's adherence to peaceful reunification. They have habitually been disregarding the mainland's goodwill and sincerity. Now, ironically, they have suddenly begun to talk about "peace," "sincerity," "goodwill," and "restraint."

They have even implied that the mainland's responses, including its demand that Taiwan island reveal the truth and hold those responsible for the tragic consequences accountable, and mainland coast guard authorities' implementation of regular law enforcement patrols in Xiamen-Kinmen waters, contradict the mainland's advocacy of "peaceful reunification."

Such wordplay is ridiculous and meaningless. The Taiwan authorities' rampant behavior in Xiamen-Kinmen waters has been going on for a long time. The Chinese mainland has shown plenty of goodwill. After the incident on February 14, the response from the Taiwan island exposed the true nature of the Taiwan authorities, and the mainlanders realized that it is time to say "Enough is enough."

"Peaceful reunification" should never be distorted as a means to lever against the mainland. The mainland seeks to peacefully resolve the Taiwan question, because it sees the people of Taiwan island as their compatriots, which is a gesture of goodwill. However, this does not imply that peaceful reunification is solely the responsibility of the mainland, nor does it mean that the mainland should grovel and excessively cater to Taiwan island in hopes of achieving reunification. 

If the Taiwan authorities continue to disregard the mainland's sincerity, viewing it as a sign of weakness to be taken advantage of, then they will bear the consequences and pay the cost. Calling off the "off-limit" or "restricted" waters in the Xiamen-Kinmen zones, realizing regular law enforcement patrols in the entire Xiamen-Kinmen waters, including boarding inspections of relevant ships, are necessary means and policy options to ensure regional security and stability, protect people's lives and property, and safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

When it comes to peaceful reunification, the origin of the Taiwan question cannot be ignored. In short, the Taiwan question is a historical result of the US' aggressive interference in China's internal affairs. China must be unified, and China will inevitably be unified. We have the deepest goodwill toward our compatriots in Taiwan island, and as a manifestation of this goodwill, we propose and focus on the development of a strategy for peaceful reunification. However, this does not mean that we will tolerate any malicious forces using peaceful reunification as a shackle to bind our hands and feet. 

Ultimately, reunification is the goal, peaceful or non-peaceful means are nothing more than the tools, methods and paths to achieve reunification. It's crystal clear: If the goodwill from the mainland receives a positive response from Taiwan island, then reunification can certainly be peaceful. Achieving the goal at a minimal cost is the best outcome. 

However, it's also very clear: if there are actors that ignore, distort or manipulate the mainland's goodwill, even interpreting the mainland's goodwill and restraint as lines that can be trampled upon, then the mainland's only option is to improve its policy toolbox, continuously enhance its own strength, develop and improve its capabilities, and ensure that it can achieve China's reunification and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by any means, including peaceful and non-peaceful ways. This is also a historical mission that China must and will inevitably fulfill.

The author is director of the Research Institution for Global Cyberspace Governance at Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn