Xi’s right-hand man, Wang Huning, is charged with coming up with a new policy for reunification, a decision taken in the light of events in Hong Kong. The Chinese leader also wants to distance himself from Deng Xiaoping’s legacy. If more aggressive, any new orientation risks favouring Taiwanese forces opposed to Beijing.
Taipei (AsiaNews) – Xi Jinping wants a new policy over Taiwan to replace the "one country, two systems" formula, which Chinese leaders have pursued since Deng Xiaoping to achieve unification between communist China and the island.
According to a source inside the Communist Party of China interviewed by Nikkei Asia, the Chinese president has instructed Wang Huning to chart a new "theoretical" course for relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Wang, a XI ally, is number four on the Politburo Standing Committee that emerged from the 20th Party Congress in October last year.
In March, he will probably become the new head of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPC), the body that lays out the regime's basic strategies.
The failure of the “one country, two systems” principle in Hong Kong appears to have convinced Xi that a change of direction was needed, a way also to get rid of Deng's legacy and have his own policy on Taiwan.
It is not yet clear whether Wang's work will be oriented towards greater cooperation with Taipei or greater political and military pressure.
The new theoretical basis for reunification should serve as a benchmark for assessing progress and whether the military option will be necessary.
Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have always said they are ready for dialogue with China, but not on the basis of the "one country, two systems" principle.
In Beijing, the Taiwanese president is seen as pro-independence and Taiwan is viewed as a “rebel province" to be taken back by force if necessary.
Observers note that Xi will have to carefully consider the timing of his paradigm shift over Taiwan.
In January 2024 the Taiwanese will vote in a presidential election. If Wang takes too hard a line, he risks helping the DPP at the polls at the expense of the Kuomintang, the pro-China nationalist party, which is more open to collaboration with the mainland.
Regardless of any theoretical elaboration or new political approach, Xi's plans will inevitably clash with the will of the Taiwanese people, who feel less and less tied to China.
According to a survey published in May 2020 by the Pew Research Center, 66 per cent of Taiwanese consider themselves Taiwanese, 28 per cent both Taiwanese and Chinese, and only 4 per cent see themselves as Chinese.