Xi Jinping laments 'Taiwan so close, yet so far away' in address on cross-strait relations

Other than proposing a bridge be built connecting Fujian and Kinmen, Xi offered very little in terms of new policy on Taiwan

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Xi Jinping discusses Taiwan in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 2 (Screengrab from YouTube)

Xi Jinping discusses Taiwan in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Jan. 2 (Screengrab from YouTube)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Xi Jinping gave a speech addressing Taiwan in Beijing on Jan. 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of a policy message from the Chinese communist Party (CCP) entitled “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” made on Jan. 1, 1979

With frequent appeals to historicism in his address, the CCP Chairman lamented that “Taiwan is so close, yet so far away.” He opined that China must continue to endure the “historical wound” which has remained open for so many years, yet he insists that the trend towards political integration of the two nations remains “inevitable.”

Indicating that little can be done currently to speed the CCP’s utopian vision of political integration, Xi urgently appealed to the Taiwanese people to assist the communist party achieve its goals, expressing his belief that “Taiwanese people share the same Chinese dream” as Chinese people, and CCP members.

Xi cautioned people in Taiwan that any deviation from the “inevitable trend” of integration and “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” would only make relations “tense and chaotic,” and result in hardship for the Taiwanese people.

Xi also illustrated the inability of the Chinese government to engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan, by demanding Taiwan adhere to a “One China principle” and the fictional “1992 Consensus,” before dialogue and “democratic negotiations” can ever take place between the two sides of the strait.

In typical fashion, Xi declared that China seeks only peaceful integration with Taiwan, but that Beijing reserves the right to use force to oppose separatism and moves towards independence. Xi also referred to the specter of “foreign influence” and “plots to create two Chinas” or “one China and one Taiwan.”

Extolling the “one country, two systems” framework applied in Hong Kong and Macao, Xi claims that “different systems are not an obstacle to integration.” He even insisted that the “assets, lifestyles, and religion of the Taiwanese people will be guaranteed” under the “scientific concept of one country, two systems,” which was developed “based on the reality of Taiwan’s situation.”

In terms of concrete suggestions made in the speech, the most noteworthy item was the chairman’s suggestion that a bridge be built between Taiwan’s Kinmen Island, and nearby Fujian. This should accompany the integration of the island’s resources including water and electricity, according to Xi.

While Xi’s address was mostly a rehash of old party lines, and an indication that little will change in terms of the current status-quo and Taiwan’s de-facto independence, he did suggest that the future of cross-strait relations “would not be smooth sailing.” He also insisted that China would continue to fight for the “spiritual reunion” of China and the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese motherland.”

The opening speakers of the gathering likewise reiterated the idea of “one country, two systems” and a “cross-Strait family,” while extolling the measures the CCP has taken to integrate and affect the economy of Taiwan with that of China, as well as strategies to siphon young talent from Taiwan to China.

The head of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Liu Jieyi (劉結一), was the CCP official to introduce the chairman. Liu warned Taiwan in his speech that “secessionist activities and moves towards Independence are doomed to fail.”

Xi’s address and the CCP meeting contributed very little to existing Chinese policy on Taiwan. The primary message was to emphasize the hope that “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” as proposed by Xi Jinping, would guide the future integration of Taiwan with communist China, which the party believes to be “inevitable.”

On Jan. 1 the President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-Wen, made her own New Year’s speech which addressed cross-strait relations and the government in Beijing and the insistence on the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Tsai said that her administration seeks respectful and mutually beneficial cross strait relations but emphasized that “there should be no ambiguous political preconditions, nor watchwords imposed upon any dialogue.”