Brian Hioe at New Bloom summed it up…
THE FACT THAT Hung Hsiu-Chu’s meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing has largely been a non-event in Taiwan probably attests to its futility. Given that Hung is already known for outlandishly extreme pro-unification views, Hung’s meeting with Xi probably does not really surprise the Taiwanese public, in the way that Eric Chu’s or Ma Ying-Jeou’s meetings with Xi Jinping in 2015 provoked stronger reactions. Hence the lack of any real public response. But does the Hung-Xi meeting indicate anything new?
Brian and I had a good laugh about the Xi-Hung meeting over drinks last night. The only people who really cared about the meeting were the international media.Beijing well understands how this ritual of the Beneficent Emperor presiding over a visit from an eager vassal looks to the media, which loves a good TAIWAN IS TENZ! story. Bloomberg’s hilarious headline was China’s Xi, Taiwan opposition leader voice concern over tensions. Voice concern over tensions… they themselves caused, as a friend pointed out on Twitter.
Prior to the meeting J Michael Cole had wondered aloud over at CPI what agreements Hung might make with Xi. But Xi, meeting in his capacity as Party Chairman rather than Emperor of China, was never going to make any agreements with the isolated head of a fading, split party whose members he undoubtedly plans to use and then have shot when China comes over.
The issue highlighted what many of us have said for a while now, some for over a decade now, that China has no Taiwan strategy (Cole wrote on that this week as well). It is simply following the well-worn grooves of its reflexive actions of the part, supplying ceremonies to satisfy its domestic audience. AP reported that…
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Taiwan’s opposition leader Tuesday, underscoring Beijing’s message to the island’s independence-leaning administration that it won’t have access to the mainland’s highest levels of power if it doesn’t accept that Taiwan is part of China.
…but it could just as well written that Xi has no access to Taiwan’s highest levels of power. Xi’s refusal to deal with Tsai has not painted Tsai into a corner. Instead, it has forced the CCP to court a political party whose influence is fading, limiting the CCP’s ability to affect Taiwan politics. Since it won’t deal with DPP politicians it can’t court, influence, or subvert them. It can’t makes its case to pan-Green voters. As if to underscore that, the CCP even banned reporters from pro-Green papers from covering the meeting. This strategy could hardly be more self-defeating.
Fortunately the CCP is too ideologically blind to realize that. Indeed, the KMT once again reminded voters what its values are, which won’t help it at the polls — each kow-tow to the CCP reinforces the KMT’s irrelevance for Taiwanese voters. As Brian H pointed out in his piece, even Ma Ying-jeou, whose China policy was one of the chief causes of the KMT’s catastrophic 2014 and 2016 election losses, realizes this.
The pro-KMT China Post reported that the chief difference between Hung’s trip was that the KMT itself is split….
Lawmakers banded together and called for assurances, revealing a divide between party headquarters and the KMT rank and file. The legislators called on Hung to be sensitive to the KMT’s current image problem, pleading for her to make “certain statements” at “appropriate settings.”
The internal strife was clear in reports that Hung and former President Ma Ying-jeou clashed over viewpoints on the “1992 Consensus.”
Ma reportedly attempted to drive home the importance of its “different interpretations of one China” clause, while Hung showed a reluctance to be boxed in.
The ensuing public spats between Central Policy Committee Director Alex Tsai and the aides of former President Ma offered few reassurances that consensus within KMT existed before Hung left for China.
It was under these two sources of pressure that Hung promised a no-frills encounter with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. A perfunctory checklist would indicate that Hung did what was advised and has managed to stay out of trouble. Barring last-minute contingencies, her trip has not derailed the KMT in any dramatic fashion.
Behind closed doors, certain media reported Xi said Taiwan independence would destroy the CCP. Thanks for supplying another incentive for Taiwan independence.
The Cross-Strait Peace Agreement that Hung keeps touting is hugely vague on the details. It will never work — if peace is institutionalized across the Strait Taiwan will move further towards independence — only the CCP threat to murder Taiwanese keeps the island from declaring independence. Beijing understands this, which is why Xi was cold to the idea. Institutionalized peace institutionalizes Taiwan as a de facto independent state.
Surely the KMT must realize this. The Party is not pursuing it on behalf of Taiwan, but on behalf of the ROC, a virtual state which must, whether China comes over or Taiwan becomes independent, be swallowed up by history. Institutionalized peace institutionalizes the continued existence of the ROC and the KMT’s umbilical connection to it — it institutionalizes the possibility of a continued future for the KMT.
- Thomas Shattuck: Taiwan is not made in China summarizing recent, pathetic moves by Beijing.
- Another call for deepened Japan-Taiwan security ties
- The amazing Julia F in The National Interest on Manila-Tokyo-Seoul-Taipei get together on China.
- Turnabout is fair play: Salami-slice weapons sales to Taiwan
- The US-Philippines alliance is stronger than you think
- Latest Global Taiwan Brief