Saturday, November 04, 2017

Nelson Report Clarification on Xi speech: possible deadline from Xi on Taiwan annexation?

Nobody let the dogs out, thankfully

From the Nelson Report, an interesting observation from Stapleton Roy on Xi setting an apparent deadline for the annexation of China. Roy, like so many commenting on Taiwan in Washington, struggles manfully not to simply say in plain speech that nobody in Taiwan wants to be part of China (they favor the status quo because it is independence). It's funny and very indicative how that has become one of the limits on all the discourse about Taiwan, including the media: few plainly state that Taiwan wants independence. Everything below is from the Nelson Report, not me, except the bolding in the second paragraph of Roy's talk....


CHINA/TAIWAN "DEADLINE" re-reading last night's Report...sorry, but we managed to be fairly incoherent in describing the concerns of Loyal Readers Stapleton Roy and Susan Lawrence at the very excellent Brookings discussion of the 19th Party Conference. So here's a transcript from a tape:


Can I comment on the Taiwan aspect? Overall, Xi Jinping's comments on Taiwan I thought were moderate in the Work Report. He reaffirmed the Mainland's policy of "Peaceful Unification." He repeated Beijing's willingness to deal with anyone or any party on the basis of "One China" and/or the 1992 Consensus on One China. Now the problem there is that the President of Taiwan has not been willing to explicitly to endorse the '92 Consensus, so there's a problem there, but the Chinese policy has not changed on that question.

There was a change, however, that was significant, although not stated with urgency shall we say. In the Work Report there was a statement of realizing complete national unification is an inevitable requirement for completion of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people. Well the goal for the great rejuvenation is 2049, so in essence he is saying that by 2049, when we're going to complete the great rejuvenation, we need to have completed national reunification. That amounts to setting an implicit deadline.

That's dangerous because we're talking about something only thirty-two years away, and the trends in Taiwan have been that there have been this enormous development and common interest to the Mainland, and there's enormous support in Taiwan for maintaining the status quo in the cross-strait relationship. But there's been no growth in support for unification with the Mainland in its current form. And so therefore if the deadline were to be held firm and we didn't have developments in Taiwan, we have a contradiction, but again we're talking about thirty-two years is forever in the American view because we can't think three to four years in advance.


Xi has talked elsewhere about national rejuvenation, including Taiwan's return to the Motherland, to this idea of unification, and I felt that in the Taiwan section of the Work Report, it actually was just a little bit less explicit than he's made it...

Roy (jumping in)

Well the comment he's made before that is relevant to this language is the statement that the Taiwan issue could not be left to future generations, which was taking the Deng Xiaoping comment about the territorial disputes with Japan- that they were too complicated and should be left to future generations. And he moved that into the current generation, which, in a sense, set an implicit deadline. But the difference is here he's linking it to national rejuvenation, which has a deadline, and therefore represents a step closer to beginning to say it has to be done by such and such a time.


Although to say he didn't sort of link them as closely in the Taiwan section. I think that's elsewhere in the Report, but the Taiwan section, he reaching out, and he's also...He's got I think the biggest applause line in the Report was, "We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party at any time or any form separate any part of Chinese territory from China." And that was the biggest applause line. one can argue that this is still basically aspirational boilerplate in terms of the reality of the current situation, where Taiwan Pres. Tsai clearly presides over a democratically elected government...but the implications are clear, as both Stape and Susan note...

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