President Tsai Ing-wen took conciliatory tone toward China during her National Day speech 10 Oct, saying old path of confrontation was over and vowing to maintain her commitment to cross-strait status quo. Opening Communist Party of China’s 19th Congress 18 Oct with Party’s Political Report charting next five years, General Secretary Xi Jinping reaffirmed that Beijing has “the resolve, the confidence and the ability to defeat separatist attempts for Taiwan independence in any form”. Xi went on to state that China respected Taiwan’s “current social system and way of life”, but that island must recognise historical fact “that the two sides both belong to one China”.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Apparently irreconcilable positions on the ‘one China’ principle have emerged between China and Taiwan over the last decade, with Taiwan for some time now asserting not only that it is a separate political entity but an independent sovereign country.
China's underlying position on its cross-Strait relations, however strong its current commitment to peaceful diplomacy, is that Taiwan must make sustained, visible progress toward a peaceful settlement or risk a resort to armed hostilities.
In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of ‘one China’, the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country.