Go TO Content

China’s Recent Reactions and Conduct on Taiwan’s Democratic Actions

  • Date:2007-03-28

(March 2007, Department of Planning)

I. Subsequent to the U.S. response to Taiwan’s ceasing the function of the National Unification Council (NUC) and ceasing the application of the National Unification Guidelines (NUG) in January and February 2006, China has steadily increased criticism of Taiwan through the following actions:

1. Official tone: Authorized by responsible authorities in China’s leadership, the Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) of the State Council have jointly issued a statement that the ceasing of the NUC and NUG is a dangerous signal that the Taiwanese authorities are escalating their attempts to promote Taiwan independence separatist activities. Similarly, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the TAO have also issued related statements.

2. Military coordination: Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, urged the military to speedily intensify military combat preparations against Taiwan during an inspection visit to the Nanjing Military Region.

3. Media offensive to manipulate public opinion: Official media such as Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily, have criticized the ceasing of the NUC and NUG through interviews with Taiwan-related scholars and commentaries. Many of China’s major Taiwan-related media websites have established special columns to cover news regarding the ceasing of the NUC and NUG and to provide a forum for netizens to express their views. Moreover, China has manipulated the Hong Kong and Macao media to strongly criticize the ceasing of the NUC and NUG.

4. Creating international pressure and mobilizing overseas anti-independence, pro-unification forces into full opposition: China has attempted to drive and manipulate U.S. strategy and use diplomatic channels (High-level meetings with foreign visitors, regular press briefings by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United Nations representatives, overseas Chinese groups, etc.) to press other countries to stick firmly to the “one China” principle, keep strict vigilance over Taiwan independence forces, and continue to criticize the ceasing of the NUC and NUG.

5. Pressuring Taiwan through the Taiwanese business community: China has created the illusion that the Taiwanese people oppose the ceasing of the NUC and NUG. Through visits, petitions, press conferences and other means, the Chinese authorities have sought to use China-based Taiwanese businesspeople as their mouthpiece.

6. Mobilizing democratic parties and mass organizations in China to speak out: Interviews reports, articles, talks or statements, seminars and other means have been used to echo China’s official criticism of the ceasing of the NUC and NUG, to attack President Chen for creating tensions in cross-strait relations and departing from the sentiments of compatriots on both sides, and to place propagandistic pressure on Taiwan.

II. China has launched a series of criticisms against Taiwan, accusing Taiwan of pushing for the “Taiwan independence” and “desinicization” actions by rectifying the names of three national corporations (Chungwha Post, Chinese Petroleum Corporation, and China Shipbuilding Corporation) and revising the content of high school history textbooks:

1. Chinese Authorities say Taiwan’s moves do not enjoy popular support and history should not be erased: At the TAO’s regular press conferences and during sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Chinese authorities criticized the Taiwanese authorities for having attempted to create a social climate for “de jure Taiwan independence” by conducting actions to “desinicize” enterprises. They alleged that Taiwan’s such actions ignore Taiwan’s economy and people’s livelihood and are a deliberate manipulation of political issues. China also emphasized that the Nanjing Massacre is a painful chapter of history that all the sons and daughters of China should remember. Taiwan’s high school history textbooks should impart an objective and true face of history to the next generation in Taiwan.

2. Attempting to pressure Taiwan through the U.S.: China’s ambassador to the U.S. Zhou Wenzhong has recently criticized officials of the Bush administration for responding too mildly to Taiwan’s move to promote the name rectification campaign.

3. Mobilizing Taiwan-related scholars and media to make commentaries that name and textbook rectifications are self-belittling actions by Taiwan, which China will continue to soberly observe: These commentaries have emphasized that the promotion of localization by the Democratic Progressive Party administration is self-belittling Taiwan’s position. They characterize such moves as steps to promote Taiwan independence and desinicization, creating a climate of local identification in Taiwan. China will soberly observe Taiwan’s future direction. The Hong Kong and Macao media have also issued commentaries stating that the Taiwanese authorities are taking increasingly frequent and intensive steps to seek “de jure Taiwan independence.” This can be seen in their overall promotion of “referendums and a new constitution,” in the permeation of “desinicization” as well as in their preparations for elections in various fields.

III. Since President Chen brought up the timetable for constitutional reforms in 2004, China has enacted an “anti-separation law” and drawn up a red line in advance to oppose “de jure Taiwan independence.” After President Chen brought up the issues of “territorial change” and a “second republic constitution” in 2005, the Chinese authorities reacted immediately and intensely. China sternly criticized President Chen for violating the "four noes" pledge, and it steadily intensified criticism that Taiwan’s constitutional reforms threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Recent suppressive actions in this regard include the following:

1. Officials formally set the tone that 2007 will be a key year for opposing independence. The Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee and the TAO also issue statements firmly opposing “de jure Taiwan independence” and all other forms of separatist activity: Chinese officials have issued statements indicating that 2007 will be a key year in opposing Taiwan independence. Such statements have been included in the New Year message by TAO Director Chen Yunlin in the 2007 first issue of the magazine “Cross-strait Relations,” at the TAO’s regular press conferences, and the National Conference of Taiwan Affairs Office Directors in late January 2007. These statements have indicated that the Taiwanese authorities’ actions to seek “de jure Taiwan independence” through so-called “constitutional reforms” are entering a substantive phase and will pose a grave challenge for cross-strait relations. Moreover, in an interview during the NPC and CPPCC sessions, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing stated that if Chen Shui-bian declares Taiwan independence he would become a criminal of history. He also remarked threateningly that the “anti-separation law would not just sit there unused.” In response to the “four imperatives and one non-issue” that President Chen Shui-bian recently mentioned, the TAO and Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee immediately defined this as meaning that the “four imperatives and one non-issue” have replaced the “four noes plus one” pledge and are aimed at seeking “de jure Taiwan independence” and national division.

2. Issuing of warnings by the military in China’s white paper on national defense and statements by high-ranking officers of the People’s Liberation Army: In its defense white paper entitled “China’s National Defense in 2006,” China indicated that the Taiwanese authorities have not only implemented a radical “Taiwan independence” line, but have also pursued “de jure Taiwan independence” through intensified promotion of so-called “constitutional reforms.” The white paper alleged that Taiwan’s such actions have constituted a serious threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and Asia-Pacific region. Chinese military figures also stated that due to his attempt to create an edge in elections for the Democratic Progressive Party, Chen Shui-bian can only risk a military conflict with China by declaring Taiwan independence. As such, China needs to keep high vigilance in this regard and absolutely not allow Taiwan independence separatist forces to split Taiwan away from China.

3. Intensifying anti-independence rhetoric during the activities commemorating the 12th anniversary of “Jiang Zemin’s Eight-Point Proposals”: During the activities commemorating the 12th anniversary of “Jiang Zemin’s Eight-Point Proposals” in January 2007 in Beijing, other places in China (Shanghai, Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, etc.) and abroad (at China’s consulate in Australia, Sydney chapter of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification, among the overseas Chinese communities and the organizations of oversea Chinese students and scholars in France, etc.), China has repeatedly linked constitutional reforms and Taiwan independence and emphasized its resolution to deter Taiwan independence.

4. Using diplomatic stratagems to make anti-independence declarations abroad: China has used various channels, including official overseas visits by leaders of the TAO and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (the main examples include a visit to New York and San Francisco by TAO deputy director and ARATS vice chairman Sun Yafu in January 2007; TAO director Chen Yunlin’s visit to Washington, D.C., in September 2006; a visit to Los Angeles by TAO deputy director Li Bingcai in July 2006; a visit to Japan by TAO deputy director Wang Zaixi in April 2006; and a visit to New York by Wang Zaixi in November 2005), meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries, and press conferences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to declare to the international community, including the U.S., United Nations, European Union, Russia, and Japan, that the Taiwanese authorities are seeking to achieve “de jure Taiwan independence” through constitutional reforms. It has claimed that Taiwan’s such actions are the greatest threat to cross-strait peace and stability, and hopes that the U.S. will abide by the “one China” policy, the “three Sino-US communiqués,” and pledge to oppose “Taiwan independence.”

5. Mobilizing Taiwan-related scholars to express positions on constitutional reforms: Taiwan-related scholars in China have emphasized the Chinese authorities’ firm position on opposing Taiwan’s “constitutional reforms” and stated that on this issue the Chinese leaders will never have any room for compromise or concession, especially on the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of China. These statements have created the impression that China will not sit and wait for affairs to naturally develop, but rather will adopt a certain level of interventionist posture.

6. Engaging in anti-independence propaganda through the Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao media: China has recently criticized Taiwan’s constitutional reforms through op-ed pieces, editorials, tables, and articles in China.com, Huaxia.com, People’s Daily, and Hong Kong and Macao media channels such as the Wen Wei Po, Macao Daily News, Sing Tao Daily, and Ta Kung Pao.