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Pelosi's Taiwan visit ill-advised and provocative

By Alan Barrell and Michael Schluter | | Updated: 2022-08-10 01:43
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The United States' stance on the Taiwan question has been characterized by "strategic ambiguity" and China has been aware of this ambiguity for a long time. But China may no longer be expected to sit idly by while the US violates the very principle on which Sino-US relations are based.

Indeed, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan on Aug 2 has upset the status quo unnecessarily and in our view was ill-advised and provocative.

As those committed to long-term peace-building in East Asia, we feel there is a lack of vision for a long-term process to gradually bring about reunification of the Chinese nation with the consent of all parties.

A soon to be published Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives book on how to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula outlines a process called "mutual convergent development" to bring together a capitalist and a communist society.

This process can be applied to the reunification of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, for which both sides would need to hold detailed discussions, sector by sector, about how to move toward shared values, shared institutions and shared policy goals over a period of perhaps half a decade, if not an entire decade.

That would call for senior officials and academics from different sectors on both sides to meet regularly, in working groups, and to identify agreed ways forward toward a shared framework of public policy.

A conflict over Taiwan cannot be ruled out indefinitely if Beijing and the island cannot identify tangible and practical ways to make progress toward mutual understanding and mutual trust. Such efforts and processes take time, and would require the involvement of large numbers of experts from different fields on both sides.

The experience of the Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives team in different parts of the world suggests that common ground can be found if discussions are carefully prepared and structured, and serious research is conducted to find solutions acceptable to all parties.

We would like to see the two sides of the Taiwan Straits engage in such dialogue, with the US encouraging Taiwan to do so, instead of regarding conflict across the Straits as inevitable.

We wish to encourage, indeed urge, all in positions of power to facilitate the process of eventual reconciliation across the Straits and on the Korean Peninsula, in order to maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. It is a matter of fact that world peace is greatly dependent on a balanced approach to inter-state relationships and efforts to defuse tensions and resolve differences.

Alan Barrell is a founding partner and chairman of Cambridge Learning Gateway as well as Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives. He works in student and academic education in China and on UK-China technology transfer, and is a guest professor at Liaoning University, Shenyang; and Michael Schluter is the president and CEO of Relational Peacebuilding Initiatives and author of the book No Other Way to Peace in Korea? A Mutual and Practical Pathway to Reunification, to be published at the end of this year.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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