Reunification not only right but desirable

  • Taiwan should take the opportunity offered by Xi Jinping to think creatively towards a solution that will free the island from global isolation while returning to China’s fold
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 10:55pm

Whichever side you stand on the question of China’s unification with Taiwan, it’s hard to disagree with President Xi Jinping’s assessment that it cannot be postponed indefinitely for future generations.

Xi offers a way forward to “start in-depth democratic consultations for a cross-strait relationship and the future of the Chinese nation, and reach transitional arrangements for the peaceful development of cross-strait ties”. That is a conciliatory if insistent gesture. Predictably, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen replied with a rebuttal, saying the island would not cede any ground on sovereignty.

But what kind of sovereignty is that when Taiwan has no diplomatic relations with most sovereign countries around the world or proper representation with most international bodies? Just having an island boundary with a military propped up by the United States is a poor kind of sovereignty.

Instead of fighting for an illusory independence which will end badly for all sides involved, Taiwanese should take this opportunity offered by Xi to think creatively towards a solution, one that will free the island from global isolation while returning to China’s fold. It will be difficult but not impossible. Under the general principle of “one China”, it’s clear Beijing is ready and willing to respect and preserve Taiwan’s existing freedoms. Not only that, but all sorts of economic and business advantages will likely be on offer to boost the island’s economy.

Xi Jinping urges Taiwan to follow Hong Kong model for unification

Tsai’s stance no longer matters; she is yesterday’s woman. Given the recent trashing received by the Democratic Progressive Party at the polls, she had to resign as party chairwoman. With the next presidential election, the Kuomintang will more than likely return to power. As it is officially committed to a unified China, it has a historic responsibility to offer the Taiwanese electorate a viable way forward.

Last but not least, Chinese unification is a matter entirely up to the Chinese people themselves. America will likely insist on having a say in the matter. As with other countries, it can choose to play a constructive role, or, as it is likely, try to exploit the division as part of its overall strategy to contain China and retain its dominance in the Asia-Pacific region.

It may be hard for the younger generation to see, but the US is not the friend it claims to be. Given the already close economic ties across the Taiwan Strait, political reunification with the mainland is not only right but desirable.