Map of Taiwan.
“…let there be no doubt – we will tolerate no foreign interference in Taiwan, we will thwart any attempt to divide our country, and we will combine as a mighty force for national reunification and rejuvenation. The historic goal of reuniting our motherland must be realized and will be realized.”
Recently, China issued a new white paper on Taiwan and Reunification, building on two previous white papers published in 1993 (The Taiwan Question and Reunification of China) and 2000 (The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue) and a significant speech by Xi Jinping in January 2019. A close comparison of these sources indicates some important shifts in emphasis, such as the current policy description of a post-reunification Taiwan and the urgency of achieving rejuvenation to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership.
The first two white papers went into considerable detail regarding the “One Country, Two Systems” approach to peaceful reunification. The 1993 white paper promised “a high degree of autonomy” where Taiwan would be a special administrative region with its own governmental system, a degree of independence in foreign affairs, and its own military forces. The 2000 white paper similarly promised that China would not “send troops or administrative personnel” to the island. The new paper uses less explicit language but notes that “We maintain that after peaceful reunification, Taiwan may continue its current social system and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law” and that Taiwan’s “social system and its way of life will be fully respected.”
Other elements of the paper have close similarities with Xi’s 2019 speech, in which he argued that reunification was a historical necessity, such as the statement “Our country must be reunified and will surely be reunified. This is a historical conclusion drawn from the evolution of cross-straits relations over the past seven decades; it is also critical to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the new era.” The new paper also echoes’ Xi’s commitment to “make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means.” While this latest white paper and China’s five-year plans have continued to express commitment to deepening economic and social ties with Taiwan, this document appears to be an attempt to more strongly lay out a vision for a post-reunification future as much as it is a restatement of the CCP’s policy regarding Taiwan.
“《台湾问题与新时代中国统一事业》白皮书 (全文) (The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era),” State Council Information Office, 10 August 2022. http://www.scio.gov.cn/zfbps/32832/Document/1728489/1728489.htm
We Chinese will decide our own affairs. The Taiwan question is an internal affair that involves China’s core interests and the Chinese people’s national sentiments, and no external interference will be tolerated. Any attempt to use the Taiwan question as a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs or obstruct China’s reunification will meet with the resolute opposition of the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan. No one should underestimate our resolve, will, and ability to defend China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We will work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification. But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. This is to guard against external interference and all separatist activities. In no way does it target our fellow Chinese in Taiwan. Use of force would be the last resort taken under compelling circumstances. We will only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces should they ever cross our red lines.
We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary means to interference by external forces or radical action by separatist elements. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the prospects of China’s peaceful reunification and advance this process.
The journey ahead cannot be all smooth sailing. However, as long as we Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits devote our ingenuity and energy to the same goal, let there be no doubt – we will tolerate no foreign interference in Taiwan, we will thwart any attempt to divide our country, and we will combine as a mighty force for national reunification and rejuvenation. The historic goal of reuniting our motherland must be realized and will be realized.
Source: “White Paper—The Taiwan Question and Reunification of China,” Taiwan Affairs Office & Information Office State Council, August 1993. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/ceno/eng/ztxw/twwt/t110654.htm
Source: “White Paper—The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue,” Taiwan Affairs Office and The Information Office of the State Council, 21 February 2000.
https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/ce/ceno/eng/ztxw/twwt/t110655.htm Source: Xi Jinping, “Working Together to Realize Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation and Advance China’s Peaceful Reunification – Speech at the Meeting Marking the 40th Anniversary of the Issuance of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Taiwan Affairs Office, 2 January 2019. http://www.gwytb.gov.cn/wyly/201904/t20190412_12155687.htm
Image: Map of Taiwan
Source: USG, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Taiwan_CIA_map_updated.jpg
Attribution: Public Domain