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Xi Jinping on Taiwan Straits Policy, Stresses 5,000-Year-Old Culture Unites Both Sides

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EIRNS—Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first major speech in the New Year dealt with the all-important issue of Taiwan and China’s reunification, one of China’s “core issues.” While it took place on the 40th anniversary of the “Open Letter to Taiwan,” in which the P.R.C. committed to ending its military operations against the island, it was also a clear response to moves within the Trump Administration to upgrade the diplomatic status of Taiwan, as had been indicated in the “The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018,” signed into law by President Donald Trump on Dec. 31st and which called for strengthening official contact and military links between the U.S. and Taiwan. President Xi was addressing a forum in which many speakers from both the mainland and Taiwan spoke on the issue of Taiwan and the rejuvenation of China.

In his speech, Xi reiterated China’s standing policy toward Taiwan: The desire for eventual reunification on the basis of “one country, two systems”; the commitment to resolving this through peaceful negotiation; but also reserving the right to use force in the face of efforts to create an independent Taiwan. Xi also stated that the separation of Taiwan from the mainland during the Opium War was due to China’s military weakness at that time to defend its territory from foreign aggression, a condition which no longer applies with the growth of China’s military strength.

The message was also directed at those in the West and in Taiwan who are trying to separate Taiwan from China. Most specifically, it was directed to those compatriots in Taiwan who realize that the only successful outcome for the island would be reunification with China under the “one party, two systems” formula, urging them to make greater efforts to move the process forward. The speech also comes at an auspicious time after the crushing losses of the independence party, the DPP, during the November local elections, and when the desire for closer ties with the mainland is probably at a high point in Taiwan.

Most importantly, Xi underlined the common 5,000 years of Chinese culture that unites both sides of the Taiwan Straits, a culture which has gained a greater recognition and stature in the international arena with the rise of China as a global power and with the growing influence of the Belt and Road Initiative as a framework for global development.