Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Reuters
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Reuters

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) ended with a spirit of decisive victory in the building of a moderately prosperous society and the great success of socialism in a new era.

President Xi Jinping was re-elected as general secretary of the party for the next five years. Some analysts believe Xi has very strong thoughts,  in the same league as those of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, within the CPC ideology.

In his speech to the Congress, Xi covered many topics, from foreign policy, the military and pollution to social and economic development, but this article will focus on Taiwan.

Beijing believes that Taiwan is an integral part of China. It firmly believes that the “one country, two systems” formula applied in its two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, is the best solution for peaceful reunification. To keep the negotiation option open, Beijing receives delegates from Taiwan to CPC and many other important national meetings.

At the 19th Party Congress, Xi put special focus on Taiwan and proposed mutual understanding for the sharing of development and benefits for the people of Taiwan.

Xi said Beijing would take the lead in sharing development opportunities with Taiwanese compatriots. This approach would defiantly develop an attitude of national treatment for Taiwanese entities and individuals.

It was the first time that a Chinese president had directly delivered this message to the people of Taiwan and offered open opportunities. He said: “We will ensure that over time, people from Taiwan will enjoy the same treatment as local people when they pursue their studies, start businesses, seek jobs, or live on the mainland, thus improving the well-being of Taiwan compatriots. People from both sides are encouraged to work together to promote Chinese culture and forge closer bonds between them.”

Xi also talked about the 1992 Consensus, also known as the One China Consensus. He said: “The 1992 Consensus embodies the one-China principle and defines the fundamental nature of cross-Strait relations. Recognize the historical fact of the 1992 Consensus and that the two sides both belong to one China, and then our two sides can conduct dialogue to address through discussion the concerns of the people of both sides, and no political party or group in Taiwan will have any difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland.”

Since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won power in Taiwan, the communication gap has increased between Taipei and Beijing. Xi categorically warned: “We will resolutely uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never tolerate a repeat of the historical tragedy of a divided country.

“All activities of splitting the motherland will be resolutely opposed by all the Chinese people. We have firm will, full confidence, and sufficient capability to defeat any form of Taiwan independence secession plot. We will never allow any person, any organization, or any political party to split any part of the Chinese territory from China at any time or in any form.”

In the last section of his speech, Xi also stated that Beijing would respect the current social system in Taiwan and the lifestyles of Taiwanese compatriots.

All in all, the policy outlined by Xi looks like a new opening of understanding between Beijing and Taiwan. It’s not the same message that has been used in past CPC Congresses, but it is a clear indication of mutual understand and peaceful cooperation. He has thrown the ball into the court of the DPP to accept the reality of a changing world.

It is not difficult to predict what future actions the CPC will take on Taiwan. At best, we could see peaceful and cordial understanding between the mainland and Taiwan on the “one country, two systems” formula that ultimately lead toward sharing development opportunities.

Imran Ali Sandano

Dr Imran Ali Sandano is author of Sufism and Peace: A Counter Strategy of Extremism and Separatist Movement of Balochistan: A Nontraditional Security Threat. He holds a PhD in nontraditional security management, an MPhil in peace and conflict studies, and a master's degree in international relations. Dr Sandano is Assistant Professor at University of Sindh, Pakistan and visiting research fellow at the Center for Nontraditional Security and Peaceful Development, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

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