Chinese official threatens 'decisive action' if Taiwan declares independence

In an article published Dec. 25, Chinese official claims an 'overwhelming advantage' over Taiwan 

Screenshot of the article

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Dec. 25, the Chinese state-run newspaper "The Study Times," published an article by Liu Junchuan (劉軍川), an official with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, which asserts that the annexation of Taiwan is a top priority of the Chinese government.

His commentary is outrageous and quickly drew the attention of Taiwanese media.

“The Study Times” is published by the Central Party School and is essential reading for future Communist Party officials. The article is entitled “The Great Renaissance of the Chinese People demands the complete Reunification of the Motherland” (中華民族偉大復興必然要求實現祖國完全統一), which is a rewording of a statement made  by Xi Jinping.

The article makes the claim that China has every advantage in regards to solving the Taiwan issue, and more interesting, that taking control of Taiwan is prerequisite for the continued advancement of China’s interests economically, militarily, socially, and culturally.

In the article Liu states that due to China’s recent development, it possesses an “overwhelming strategic advantage over Taiwan,” and that the situation continues “to develop in a direction beneficial to (China), and will not change, time and momentum are on (China’s) side,” as reported by Reuters.

In the article, Liu outlines the extremely rapid economic development of China in comparison to Taiwan noting that in 2000 the total economic output of China was 3.7 times that of Taiwan, and by 2016 it had increased to 21.9 times that of Taiwan.

Despite the headline and statements like “Should separatist forces cause any major incidents, we will fire upon them decisively,” the article’s core message is actually much more subdued.

It stresses that things are going just as planned, and that the strategy for peaceful unification is progressing perfectly apace. Liu clearly wants to believe that China’s economic might and the “One Party, Two Systems” model of Hong Kong must surely be getting increasingly irresistible for the Taiwanese population.

It is not immediately clear whether Liu is seeking to reassure himself or his readers of the supposed “inevitability” and “attractiveness” of his proposition; however his urgent tone is certainly an indication of the sensitivity and the hubris with which the Chinese government regards Taiwan’s supposed destiny.

However reading between the lines and arrogance, Liu’s message seems to indicate two things; the first is to reassure readers that China’s position economically and militarily is unshakable, and to offer a persuasive message that there is no need to worry about the Taiwan situation.

The second underlying message appears to be, that despite the typical nationalist pontificating, Liu is urging a return to a posture of calm and patient calculation. Multiple phrasings of “time is on our side,” are offered as both encouragement and consolation to the more strident voices urging hasty action among the party and the PLA.

That sentiment at least is reasonable, especially considering the boisterous language and provocative actions from both Chinese state officials and the Chinese military of late.

However, as for Liu’s arrogance, and his idealized and very suspect version of history, it is extremely unlikely he will be persuading anyone in Taiwan any time soon.