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President Xi’s Speech: A Declaration for Peace, Democracy, and Reunification

Jan 22, 2019

In an important speech at the gathering marking the 40th anniversary of Message to Compatriots in Taiwan, President Xi Jinping reviewed seventy years of relations across the Taiwan Straits, accurately describing the reality and identifying the direction and goal for the future. The speech is the golden key to resolving the current deadlock and, ultimately, the Taiwan question.

Xi’s speech is a manifesto in response to the strong will of the Chinese people yearning for reunification

Xi reviewed the 70-year history of cross-strait relations. He did so to show the ins and outs of the Taiwan question, which is completely necessary since some scholars in Taiwan and elsewhere in the world seem to have forgotten its origin and the course of development and lost expectations for a peaceful final settlement. In the past seventy years, the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, especially the mainland, have made great efforts towards peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question. But pro-independence forces in Taiwan are running rampant and making attempts to garner international support with a narrative combining independence with democracy. Some Americans have begun to undermine the One-China policy. If the question drags on without resolution, more complicated changes may occur and cause greater problems. As Taiwan represents China's core interest, the Chinese people have never ceased working for national reunification or urging for reunification by force. Should resolution of the question be put to the vote, a typical form of Western democracy, probably 99% of the people would vote for immediate military reunification. That will be the most democratic way of decision-making and undoubtedly most undesired by the international community. President Xi's speech was thus a rational response of the Chinese government to public opinion. It shows great goodwill and sincerity to guide mainland public opinion towards a peaceful and rational solution based on the collective wisdom of our nation, which deserves the understanding and support of the international community.

Xi’s speech sends important signals for a peaceful resolution

Peace is the key word throughout the speech. Peace is precious but the flower of peace must be watered with wisdom and patience and nurtured with confidence and strength. For seventy years, the mainland has been exploring the possibility of peacefully resolving the Taiwan question, with various practices. In 2018, upon requests by Taiwan compatriots, thirty-one measures were introduced to issue identity cards to islanders living on the mainland, which are all designed to provide equal treatment for people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, further consolidate the foundation for peace, enable more convenient people-to-people exchanges, and better protect the rights of Taiwan compatriots on the mainland. The international community's understanding and support of these measures will be conducive to eliminating cross-strait differences, hostile sentiments, or potential conflict.

President Xi comprehensively and systematically articulated the goal, plan, prospects and foundations of peaceful reunification. The whole theory clearly points to peaceful resolution. Yet it was distorted and stigmatized by Tsai Ing-wen. For example, she confused the 1992 Consensus with ‘one country, two systems’, to create an atmosphere of terror on the island and scare the Taiwanese people away from the solution. After all, not many ordinary people would seriously read and think through Xi's speech. Most will listen to interpretations by politicians and the media. In this situation, comprehensive and systematic interpretation plus correct signaling by foreign experts, American ones in particular, will undoubtedly be critical in the course towards resolving the Taiwan question.

Xi’s speech identified the pathway to resolving the Taiwan question through democratic consultation

In his speech, Xi earnestly proposed and called upon political parties and various communities on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to elect representatives to engage in extensive democratic consultation on cross-strait relations and the future of our nation and to propose institutional arrangements for peaceful development. Tsai has repeatedly claimed ownership of democracy yet turned a blind eye when the mainland waved the olive branch of democratic consultation. It is very regrettable, indeed. The Taiwan side should be reminded of this by the international community. After all, the political environment there is such that people may only talk about ‘independence’, but not ‘unification’. In the discourse ‘independence’ means ‘love for Taiwan’. Against this backdrop, the proposal that the silent pro-unification people should choose representatives outside of the existing electoral system, potentially from different political parties and communities, and empower them to engage in extensive democratic consultation with the mainland undoubtedly demonstrates a deep respect for public opinion on the island and is a bold initiative and attempt to solve the Taiwan question in a democratic way.

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