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Chu-Xi discussion fails to impress

Chu-Xi discussion fails to impress

The Chu-Xi meeting in Beijing on Monday failed to exceed any expectations. Both leaders chose to play it safe by placing their good “Samaritan” cards on the table to achieve one common goal: a toned-down discussion on politics. It was obviously not the day for fiery political rhetoric or tit for tat deals.

It’s not the first high-level contact between the KMT and CPC. The trip to Beijing made by KMT leader Eric Chu was not by itself groundbreaking. In the past, there were already such exchanges, including the-then KMT Chairman Lien Chan with the-then CPC leader Hu Jintao back in 2005. Chu’s trip to Beijing is simply the continuation of such exchanges. The event simply underscores the extent to which the political dynamic is changing.

The reason why no “active” KMT chairman has met the CCP chief since 2009 is simply because of Beijing’s refusal to legitimize the Republic of China (R.O.C.) by Hu or Xi meeting with the R.O.C. president. The resumption of such meetings was made possible since Chu is not president of the R.O.C. and not as the culmination of the rapprochement that has occurred between Taiwan and China under President Ma Ing-jeou.

Following KMT’s defeat in the local elections late last year (commonly known as the nine-in-one elections), Eric Chu, who was inaugurated as KMT chairman in January, has vowed for internal reform. His trip to Beijing last week shows that he is determined to bring his centenarian party back to its glory days.

Prior to his meeting with CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping on Monday, Chu was openly overt in a press conference that he will touch on sensitive subjects during his talk with Xi, including the so-called 1992 Consensus.

The meeting on Monday, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, didn't provoke a huge surprise. Even though there were reports that circled around the importance of the meeting, the fact is we’ve all heard it all before, and the content of the discussion all sounded too familiar to anyone who was present in the press room with Hu and Xi.

The outcome was that of a deja-vu - to forge stronger ties based on the 1992 Consensus with an emphasis on greater economic integration. Meanwhile, Chu did not forget to make a stance on Taiwan’s willingness to participate in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

It’s pretty obvious that Xi chose to give Chu a fair amount of “face time” in his first trip to Beijing by not stressing the “One-China policy” amongst their topics of discussion. It’s also fair to say that Xi paved Chu a leeway so that he wouldn’t have to face the expected bashing of words coming from opposing DPP party members once he returns to Taiwan.

However, some credit goes to Chu because he was cunning enough not to bring taboos out in the open, such as quoting the term “R.O.C.” Last but not least, he avoided Taiwan’s identity issue like a plague, or at least in front of the camera and reporters.

We will never know what went on during that closed-door discussion. Show or no show, Chu did say something right, and that is “seeking common ground while respecting differences”, slightly revising the old idea of “seeking common ground while setting aside differences.”

Although critics who have questioned whether Taiwan should continue to warm up to China’s growing might, and some have even criticized Chu for clearing the way for a Chinese takeover of Taiwan’s economy.

In a nutshell, however it turns out, for good or worse, only time will tell.

Updated : 2021-09-29 04:43 GMT+08:00