On December 21, the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Global Times was held in Beijing attended by over a hundred authoritative persons, experts and scholars from domestic and foreign political, academic and public opinion circles. Among the various topics discussed, the Reunification of Taiwan in 2020 became a focal point.
Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, the former Deputy Commander of the Nanjing Military Region, said that 2020 was critical for these reasons:
- “Taiwan independence forces” have become the majority on the island, and this trend is irreversible;
- The mainland people and the Taiwan people have opposite views on the issue of reunification and independence.
- Beijing is simply running out of time. Liberating and reunifying with Taiwan will be impossible in 5-10 years. Wang Hongguang criticized Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen for making young people believe that Taiwan is a “country” (not a province).
Luo Yuan, Executive Vice President and Secretary-General of the China Association for the Promotion of Strategic Culture, pointed out the uncertainties in the Taiwan elections. Taiwan’s public opinion on independence or unification depends on factors including the possible mainland invasion or U.S. protection.
After the U.S. Congress passed a number of Taiwan-related bills in recent years, US warships docked in Taiwan in 2018, the US military conducted joint exercises in 2019, and the US military passed the Taiwan Strait nine times. “China must respond to these disruptions to Sino-US relations. ” Luo Yuan said, “Taiwan’s elected government would never publicly declare independence. Tsai Ing-wen said some time ago that reunification was not the only option for Taiwan. I want to tell her that reunification IS the only option for Taiwan, and peaceful reunification may not be the only option for reunification.” The former deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, Wang Zaixi, also said that next year’s election in Taiwan would be a critical event in Taiwan’s election history.
Wang Zaixi, former Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said that Tsai Ing-wen had a slight advantage according to the current opinion polls as the current leader of Taiwan backed by her own party while benefiting from the United States and Hong Kong factors. He said: “However, the election result is negligible because the mainland has the final say on the cross-strait relations, a conclusion shared by a research and analysis done by Taiwanese DPP. Therefore, when to solve the Taiwan issue and how to unify it depend on the mainland’s strength, determination, and preparations. From a broader perspective, a Kuomintang victory will ease cross-strait tension but delay reunification. A DPP win will escalate tension but accelerate the reunification (by force). The DPP now cooperates with the US strategy of containing China, supports Hong Kong independence elements, and constantly creates trouble for the mainland. This will eventually force the mainland to solve the Taiwan issue by reunification. History has proven that reunification is unstoppable with China’s strong growth.”
Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, believed that the focus of the problem should be on the United States: “The US now promotes US-Taiwan relations in all aspects – from law, diplomacy to economics and security. The most dangerous change is that the United States is trying to break the bottom line of cross-strait relations and promote Taiwan’s status as a sovereign state.”
Dai Xu, Dean of the Institute of Marine Security and Cooperation believed that the time table to liberate Taiwan depended on the Sino-US relations: “Since Taiwan issue has been part of Sino-US relations from the beginning, next year will be the key point of our reunification. We must re-assess Sino-US relations in 2020 post-Taiwan and the US presidential elections. Political changes will affect both Sino-US and cross-strait relations.”
Sun Zhe, Co-Director, Columbia University China Program pointed out that the Taiwan issue could not be academically decoupled from the US government’s policies. His concern was that the four laws passed by the United States Congress on Taiwan were not adequately interpreted.
Zhang Yazhong, Professor of Political Science of Taiwan University said that “unification-by-force” should the choice, but the U.S. strategy of using Taiwan as a “weapon” in Sino-US relations concerned him. He said that the US strategists wanted to turn Taiwan into “Afghanistan” by encouraging Taiwan to defies Beijing. He did not want China to fall into the strategic trap set by the US.
Zhang Yazhong emphasized the preparation work before reunification, especially on the mainland side: “The unification of two hostile parties is too big of a change. Therefore, a grand strategy must be put in place by both sides to shrink the communication gap.”
In the subsequent discussion, Wang Hongguang, who had a strong stand on Taiwan, had a fierce argument with Zhang Yazhong, who believed that the problem should be solved through communication. Wang Hongguang insisted that the reunification was urgent as many Taiwanese no longer identified themselves as Chinese, while Zhang Yazhong insisted that Beijing should try to win the hearts of the Taiwanese. However, Wang Zaixi, the former deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, got the most applause. He believed that a grassroots approach in Taiwan should be the main focus.