The Process of Peaceful Reunification by Controlling over Taiwan through the US

Release Date : 2024-04-23

Kun-Shuan Chiu, Emeritus Professor, Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, National Cheng Chi University

Since the “Xi-Biden Summit” in November last year, Xi Jinping has started a “peaceful reunification” strategy to control over Taiwan through the US. In the summit, he asked the US to fulfill its promise of not supporting Taiwan independence into real practice, to stop providing arms to Taiwan, and to support peaceful reunification of China. This is the first time that China made such a statement.

China has used its crucial position in the Russia-Ukraine war, North Korea nuclear issue, and the conflicts among Iran, Israel and Palestine as bargaining chips in negotiation with the US on issue of the Taiwan Strait. While Baiden, under the pressure of Russia-Ukraine war and Israel-Palestine conflict, can’t afford any trouble in the Taiwan Strait to impact the year-end election. Therefore, the US officials have travelled across the two sides of the Taiwan Strait before May 20. Laura Rosenberger, Chair of the American Institute in Taiwan, visited Taiwan twice after Taiwan’s presidential election, and Daniel J. Kritenbrink, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, specially met with Qiu Kaiming, Deputy Director of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, during his visit in Beijing, intending to firmly express stance and bottom line and further stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait and assure Lai Ching-te.  

In early April this year, Former President Ma led a group of young students to visit China and met with Xi Jinping for the second talk. In this high profile meeting, Xi Jinping warmly received Ma and his delegation in the East Hall of the Great Hall of people, where the foreign heads of states are usually received, the first time in the cross-strait relations. It not only symbolized an affirmation to Ma’s contributions to the Chinese nation but sent signals of easing tensions to the people in Taiwan.

In the meeting, Xi Jinping pointed out “to handle cross-strait relations in the the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the long-term development.” He stressed that long-term development shows China’s patience for peaceful reunification, and that time is on their side, most importantly, exerting development to promote unification.

China’s intention is very clear with such soft tone in its policy statement to Taiwan before Lai’s inauguration on May 20. Under the circumstances that it is not possible for The Democratic Progressive Pary (DPP) to accept the “1992 Consensus,” there will be a basis for talks and communication if both sides accept the notion that they all belong to the Chinese nation. It will become China’s goals in the near future to promote integration and development and then form a “community of Chinese nation” before peaceful unification, thus creating more peacetime in the cross-strait relations.  

The US Department of State affirmed Ma’s visit to China in a manner similar to open statement, believing that it could ease the tensions and promote cross-strait relations. Rosenberger stated that even Beijing continues setting preconditions on dialog of both sides, the US will continue to encourage this dialog and believe it is good for the peace and stability of Taiwan Strait.

Currently, all countries are facing the risks of geopolitical challenges, so the US, China and Taiwan are all seeking stability. The US has reassured China that it won’t support Taiwan independence and nor would it challenge China’s bottom lines, but this verbal reassurance has not been put into actual practice, though easing the cross-strait tensions temporarily.

Once Lai Ching-te takes office, he would probably continue President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy of not provoking China under the management of the US. He would increase the efforts of de-sinicization to build Taiwan sovereignty through appeals of democracy domestically while China would continue exerting pressure politically and militarily with increase efforts according to the actual situation. China would also increase humanity and youth exchanges with Taiwan.

The current fragile but steady structure of three sides would be impacted by the result of the year-end US presidential election. Polls show that Trump might probably win the election and if he is elected, the whole world be exposed to uncertain risks. The strength and stability of major powers would become the basis of maintaining their national security and interests while smaller countries need to be wise enough to avoid risks and get benefits from the rivalry of two major powers. 

Translated to English by Tracy Chou