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'Pursuing stability' Beijing's focus on cross-strait issue: scholar

ROC Central News Agency

03/05/2021 07:48 PM

Taipei, March 5 (CNA) China will continue to adopt a policy of "pursing stability" on issues concerning its relations with Taiwan, a Taiwanese scholar in East Asia studies said Friday when commenting on the Taiwan affairs section of the Chinese government's latest work report.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) reiterated his country's "one-China principle" and the "1992 consensus" when he delivered the government work report at the annual National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, which opened earlier that day in Beijing.

Li also spelled out Beijing's determination to promote the "peaceful development" of cross-Taiwan Strait links and the "unification of the motherland."

China will remain vigilant and will resolutely deter "separatist activities" aimed at Taiwan's independence, he said.

Wang Hsin-hsien (王信賢), director of National Chengchi University's Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, told CNA that this year, Beijing will concentrate its attention on the revision of the electoral system in Hong Kong, while with regard to cross-strait affairs, it will uphold its long-held stance and seek the stable development of cross-strait relations.

Wang based his observations on the key focuses of the NPC meeting and the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body that opened in Beijing the previous day.

Beijing has since 2019, when massive protests erupted in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill, taken "extremely swift" actions to repress a growing pro-democratic movement in Hong Kong that emerged from the protests, the scholar said.

These actions included enacting a national security law in the special administrative region last year and further acting to revise Hong Kong's electoral system this year, he said. As a result, on the cross-strait issue, it appears that Beijing will do nothing "as long as there is no trouble there."

In Beijing's eyes, Hong Kong is an issue that needs to be addressed with an aggressive approach, while the Taiwan issue can be dealt with at a slower pace, Wang said.

Echoing Wang, Chang Wu-ueh (張五岳), an associate professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of China Studies, noted that although Beijing repeated its "one-China principle" and the "1992 consensus" in its work report for 2021, it did not heighten its hard-line approach toward Taiwan.

Chang, however, also said that following the release of the work report, it is important to see if China's President Xi Jinping (習近平) will bring up new approaches toward Taiwan.

It is also crucial to see what Wang Yi (王毅), the Chinese foreign affairs minister, and Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一) will say about Taiwan in their speeches at the two significant Chinese political bodies, he said.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached by Taiwan's then-Kuomintang (KMT) government and the Chinese government in 1992, which is interpreted by the KMT to mean that both sides of the strait acknowledge that there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means.

However, Beijing has never recognized that each side is free to make its own interpretation, although it has never publicly rejected the KMT's interpretation.

Taiwan's incumbent Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has not recognized the consensus since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, leading to a cooling down of the warmer cross-strait interactions and exchanges during the government of Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT.

The DPP is known for its pro-Taiwan independence stance.

Meanwhile, Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), head of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top China policy making body, did not make any comments but said the agency will continue to pay attention to the policies presented by China's leaders during the week-long NPC and CPPCC meetings.

(By Miao Chung-han, Kuo Chien-shen and Elizabeth Hsu)


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