Chinese President Xi Jinping has delivered a speech addressing issues relating to the long running Taiwan question. Central to his speech was an emphasis on the reality that outside interference in an internal Chinese matter will not be tolerated as such meddling would only inflame an issue whose ultimate conclusion can only be brought about through open dialogue. As Xi stated,
“The Chinese people’s affairs should be decided by the Chinese people”.
And yet this fundamental concept remains foreign to some in the wider world who seek conflict where there is none and likewise seek to turn non-violent disagreements into military confrontations.
While the Taiwan question arose in the aftermath of the Kuomintang-Communist Civil War in China, the issue today remains one that has less to do with confrontation than one which exists due to the fact that the political issues which politically separated Taiwan from the rest of China after 1949 were not allowed to be settled on the basis of a political accord, due to outside interference in Chinese affairs. In 2018 there is absolutely no appetite among any Chinese to make war against one another on a regional basis. Such things are totally out of step with the mentality of nation. This is as true of the mainland as it is of Taiwan. The fact that in local elections in Taiwan late in 2018, the separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost substantially to the comparatively moderate Kuomintang, is a clear indication of a long standing reality in respect of cross straits relations: the people living in Taiwan have no desire to encourage a leadership that pushes for confrontation.
The plain fact of the matter is that while the US government does not care about the welfare of Chinese people, whether on the mainland or Taiwan, successive hypocritical US governments have feigned sympathy to a cause which should have been put to rest in 1949 in order to attempt and gain leverage against China and stifle her development in the process. For some period of time, the Taiwan issue helped the US to remove China’s representatives from the United Nations as it was only in 1971 when China took its rightful seat in the international body. The Taiwan issue also helped to unite the far-right in the United States as calls against “red China” helped extremists in the US to distract themselves from the racial tensions and controversial foreign policies of America during the 1950s and 1960s. Today, the world has largely moved on from the ideological antagonisms of the mid-20th century, but when it comes to US policy on Taiwan, many remain stuck in a bygone era.
In any case, it is not up to any foreign power to determine the fate of any people’s political future. Even in Taiwan, the only people calling for further US meddling are those who have built political careers largely on a steady flow of financial backing from elements of the US state. Yet for the ordinary people, peace through prosperity remains the favoured method to attain long term peace in a singular fraternal Chinese nation.
Beyond this, even if some in the US might act like the dynamics of global affairs have not changed since the 1950s, the rest of the world is rapidly adopting a pragmatic One China policy. With the vast majority of the world recognising Beijing as the capital of a single Chinese state, last year both El Salvador and Dominican Republic decided to establish full diplomatic relations with Beijing after being holdouts in respect of maintaining diplomatic relations with Taipei.
There is clearly a global impetus to remove the fire and fury from the Taiwan question that can only be handled in a modern manner that rejects the savage bellicosity of foreign meddlers. As the One Country – Two Systems model continues to function as a model of success in respect of Hong Kong and Macao’s relations with the mainland, it is entirely conceivable that in the future, a similar situation can be used to once and for all settle the Taiwan question in an amicable manner that does not create any social shocks. Furthermore, as China is well on the road to becoming the world’s largest economy in terms of overall GDP, a One Country – Two Systems model for Taiwan would help to give greater economic opportunity to millions who otherwise might be left behind as the 21st century progresses.
In order to achieve this peaceful solution to a crisis that ought to have ended in the last century, inter-Chinese dialogue must resume on a respectful basis and crucially, there is no room for any foreign power to meddle in the progress of such discussions.