The Liberty Times
Editorial: Peace plan a cover for China accord
What is the East China Sea peace initiative? When President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)
presented this framework for dealing with the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) dispute in
August last year, it was generally felt that shelving disputes and working
together would be an alternative to interaction and negotiations, aimed at
establishing shared understanding and interests and building peace when dealing
with clashes over sovereignty. Unexpectedly, just a year later, the essence of
this initiative was revealed when China unilaterally declared its East China Sea
air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The peace of the East China Sea peace
initiative is in fact a selective and bogus peace used to wrap an alliance with
China in a veil of virtue.
Taiwan is a victim of China’s ADIZ, but in the name of the East China Sea peace
initiative, our president is calling on Japan, the US, China and other concerned
countries to act with self-restraint and not to escalate the confrontation, as
if he were an outside observer.
China’s unilateral announcement — which was made without holding any talks — is
an invasion of aviation freedom in the airspace over international waters, but
Taiwan’s government was quick to request that airlines inform China about their
flight schedules, thus giving its stamp of approval to China’s attack on the
current peace. Let us delve a bit deeper into the government’s contradictory
How do we reach the conclusion that the goal is to enter into an alliance with
China, and what is the goal of this alliance? To answer these questions, it is
necessary to discuss China’s Taiwan policy following the ascent of Xi Jinping
(習近平) to the presidency.
Following the third plenary session of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 18th
National Congress, it has become clear that the strategic goal established by Xi
is to formalize the particular political arrangement prior to unification in
There are three reasons for this.
The first is that Xi has stabilized his power base by gaining control of the
party, government and army in a very short time.
Second, he is a center-left nationalist, and his statement that “to be turned
into iron, the metal itself must be strong” makes it clear that he is a
Finally, he was not pleased with former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤)
China policy. Hu, in turn, was not pleased with the Taiwan policy of his
predecessor, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), because he felt that
although Jiang was threatening Taiwan to force it to rein in its horses, every
time Taiwan neared the edge of the cliff, he would just find ways to extend the
solid ground beneath her feet.
That was why Hu created the “Anti-Secession” Law, which states: “In the event
that the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces should act under any name or
by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan’s secession from China, or that major
incidents entailing Taiwan’s secession from China should occur or that
possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the
state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect
China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Xi believes that Hu was successful in opposing Taiwanese independence, but that
his contributions to promote unification were very limited. The expanded
cross-strait exchanges have increased Taiwanese understanding of China with the
result that identification with China has dropped, and this matters to China.
When Ma said there would be neither unification nor independence, Hu offered
Taiwan more advantageous terms, and Xi disagreed with this, which is why he will
not follow in Hu’s footsteps, but rather find other approaches.
At the third plenary session, it became clear what practical steps Xi will take
after the strategic goals have been set. Organizationally, Taiwan will be
elevated to the level of the recently announced National Security Council, and
in terms of personnel arrangements, Huang Wentao (黃文濤), the director of the
Taiwan Affairs Office’s (TAO) research bureau, has been demoted and will be
replaced by Zhou Ning (周寧), director of the TAO’s Bureau of Laws and
A reasonable interpretation of these developments would be that the
formalization of the particular political arrangement prior to unification in
law has been put on the agenda.
There are many things Xi could do to highlight the special political
arrangement, such as a peace agreement, ending hostilities, setting up a
mechanism to build mutual military trust and even creating a political
arrangement prior to unification.
The goal is to make unification Taiwan’s only option while Ma is still in
office, and the intent is to tell Taiwanese that China is in no rush to unify,
and that it is offering a reasonable arrangement for cross-strait relations,
although it is all a matter of different stages that will lead up to
At the same time, Xi’s Taiwan experts are delicately continuing to manipulate
forces within Taiwan. Using discussion of a peace agreement as a pretext, they
recently managed to attract a group of people from the pan-green camp. In
addition, New Taipei City (新北市) Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), a possible future leader
of Taiwan, attended a peace forum organized by former speaker of the now-defunct
Taiwan Provincial Assembly Kao Yu-jen (高育仁). For the rest, the Ma administration
is trying to bait them with the prospect of a Ma-Xi meeting.
If such a meeting could be held next year, Xi would demand that a communique be
issued to trap Taiwan with a written statement, even if such a meeting were to
take place at the APEC summit. Xi could use this to show the international
community that Taiwan has finally returned to the fold. As unification becomes
Taiwan’s only option, China can continue by requesting that the US end its arms
sales to Taiwan, in a direct challenge to the Taiwan Relations Act.
A closer analysis of Xi’s Taiwan policy and comparison of this analysis with
Ma’s alliance with China shows how closely they match.
Taiwan’s only remaining option is for the legislature and the public to oppose
Ma’s dictatorial ways, the total lack of democratic discussion and the complete
disregard for procedural justice.
Translated by Perry Svensson