Tsai may sacrifice cross-Straits ties to act as US puppet
Tsai Ing-wen’s inaugural address on Wednesday on her re-election as Taiwan leader had more of the same old rhetoric, and if she keeps promoting her ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s “independence” agenda, she will further strain cross-Straits relations.
Reiterating the principles of “peace, equality, democracy and dialogue” in her speech, Tsai ended up exposing her devious “pro-independence” plan. Worse, she tried to disguise “Taiwan independence” by playing on the word “community”, which in fact is a new way of promoting her party’s political agenda. And her announcement to “amend the constitution” reveals the island administration’s plot to seek “legal independence”, which should sound the alarm for the Chinese mainland.
Under the garb of maintaining the status quo, the Tsai administration is trying to push the “Taiwan independence” agenda toward darkness, just like it did during her first term since 2016. Tsai’s machinations have already destroyed the common political foundation of the two sides of the Straits, and if she continues on the same path, she will further heighten cross-Straits tensions.
In her address, Tsai stuck to her policy of not acknowledging the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China. By hiding her real political motive behind noble terms such as “democracy” and “listening to the people”, Tsai could incite secessionists to take more aggressive actions to challenge Beijing’s bottom line and expand the DPP’s international presence, while disowning the responsibility for potential conflict.
At the same time, Koo Kwang-ming, a “pro-independence” DPP activist, spared no efforts in pushing a referendum to make Taiwan a separate entity. But by doing so, the secessionists are pushing the island toward a point of no return.
Tsai also boasted the island has managed to virtually contain the novel coronavirus pandemic because of its “democratic” administrative system.
Scorning Beijing and scoffing at Wuhan, at a time when the Hubei provincial capital was struggling to control the spread of the virus, the Tsai administration banned the export of face masks to the mainland during the Lunar New Year, the most important festival for the Chinese people. Let alone brotherhood, the DPP made a mockery of even humanitarianism by taking advantage of the outbreak to hit out at the mainland. Using the outbreak and the meeting of the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization’s decision-making body, Tsai has displayed only hostility toward the mainland in order to seek the US’ favor. Which makes her real motive clear: helping Washington to contain Beijing even at the cost of sacrificing cross-Straits relations and risking the island residents’ well-being.
Since Tsai has retained almost the same administration for her second term, she is not likely to change her policy toward the mainland, and instead continue promoting the “Taiwan independence” agenda. By showing faux restraint in office while inciting secessionists, Tsai will pretend to be a peacemaker, so that she can seek concession under international pressure in case of a cross-Straits conflict.
The Tsai administration’s roundabout strategy to seek “Taiwan independence” is reflected in its “de-Sinicization” campaign, which is aimed at changing the island residents’ identity as Chinese.
Given the DPP’s political agenda and Tsai’s pro-independence stance, curbing separatism is the best way to ease cross-Straits tensions. Despite sticking to peaceful reunification based on history, the mainland will never compromise on national sovereignty and territorial integrity which is of core national interest to the country. For sure, the DPP will never succeed in crossing the bottom line of the mainland in an attempt to expand its space for international activities and seek “independence”.
The Tsai authorities should be held accountable if cross-Straits relations deteriorate further, and the mainland will not tolerate the DPP crossing the bottom line of national sovereignty.
The author is a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.
The views don’t necessarily represent those of China Daily.