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Editorial : Xi Jinping's 5-Point Reunification Proposal for Taiwan

【明報專訊】ON the 40th anniversary of the issuance of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", Chinese President Xi Jinping put forth a five-point proposal concerning Taiwan (hereafter "the 5-point proposal"). For the first time it has been proposed that to achieve peaceful reunification, "a plan of one country, two systems for Taiwan" will be explored. The 5-point proposal is an important watershed in mainland China's Taiwan policy. It shows that Beijing is already studying and formulating steps towards reunification. Beijing will contact different sectors of Taiwan proactively to pursue reunification, regardless of who is in government in Taipei. Over the last two years, Washington has been hollowing out the meaning of its One China policy to give a fillip to Taiwan's independence movement. Even though Xi Jinping has not proposed a timetable for reunification, he has in fact made it clear that the mainland will no longer defer tackling the Taiwan question. All parties involved may slowly be moving to the critical point of showdown.

In the early 1980s, Beijing proposed reunifying Taiwan by adopting the policy of one country, two systems. Beijing not only promised that Taiwan could maintain its socio-economic system and way of life, it even promised that Taiwan could retain its own army. However, there has been little discussion in more concrete terms. What is important about the 5-point proposal is that the idea of "exploring a plan of one country, two systems for Taiwan" is put forth for the first time and words are now being turned into deeds.

In the reunification plan outlined in the 5-point proposal, the most important political breakthrough is the suggestion that representatives of any political party and any social sector in Taiwan who support the 1992 Consensus and oppose Taiwan's independence may take part in the consultation on the content of the plan of two systems. It will not be decided by Beijing unilaterally. In terms of people's livelihood and the economy, to foster spiritual congeniality between people across the strait and to consolidate the foundation for peaceful reunification, Xi Jinping has proposed deepening the integrated development across the Taiwan Strait, building a cross-strait common market, pursuing connectivity in infrastructure and exchange of energy.

Tsai Ing-wen's administration and the green camp of course see the proposal as a united front strategy of Beijing. However, it is not easy for Tsai to stop county and city administrations from having exchanges with mainland China. It is true that politically many people in Taiwan still strongly resist mainland China. However, it is worth noting that a survey conducted last year by a Taiwanese think tank connected with the green camp found that the percentage of Taiwanese who accepted cross-strait reunification had increased significantly. It was 26% and for the first time, it exceeded the percentage of those who wanted to maintain the status quo, which was 23%. The percentage of those who supported independence had gone down from over 50% in 2016 to 36% last year.

Judging from the development of affairs across the strait, it is hard to expect the status quo of neither reunification nor independence to remain unchanged. The Taiwanese people will have to make up their mind sooner or later. One can imagine that in the end some people will choose reunification and some will put all the eggs in one basket by choosing independence in the hope that the US will give them support. In the final analysis, the future development of the Taiwan question is dependent on Sino-US relations.

With the passage of the Taiwan Travel Act and the National Defense Authorisation Act in the last two years and the signing of the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act by Trump recently, the One-China policy of the US has been hollowed out by Washington. Since the US has stepped up the use of Taiwan to restrain Beijing, it will definitely embolden Taiwan's pro-independence force. To curb Taiwan separatism, Beijing must tackle the influence of external forces on Taiwan's affairs properly. In the face of covert and overt support the US extends to Taiwan's separatism, mere verbal criticisms or "resolute opposition" will hardly produce any deterrent effects.

明報社評2019.01.03:習近平提統一路線圖 台灣抉擇時刻難永避

《告台灣同胞書》發表40周年,國家主席習近平提出5點對台主張(下稱「習五點」),包括首度提出探索「一國兩制台灣方案」,實現和平統一。「習五點」是大陸對台政策重要分水嶺,標誌北京已在研擬統一步驟,不管台北由誰執政,北京都會積極接觸台灣各界,推進統一。過去兩年,華府不斷掏空美國「一個中國」政策內涵,為台獨張目,習近平雖然未提統一時間表,惟實際已表明台灣問題不能再拖,各方可能正緩緩走向攤牌的臨界點。

1980年代初,北京已提出一國兩制統一台灣,台灣可以保持社會經濟制度和生活方式不變,還可保留軍隊,然而具體內容鮮有討論。「習五點」的重點,在於首度提出「探索一國兩制台灣方案」,化虛為實。

「習五點」勾勒統一藍圖,政治方面最大突破點,是提出台灣各政黨各階層代表,只要支持「九二共識」反台獨,均可參與協商兩制方案內容,而非北京單方面決定。民生經濟方面,「習五點」提出深化兩岸融合發展,建立兩岸共同市場,實現能源基建聯通,促進兩地人民心靈契合,打好和平統一基礎。

在蔡英文政府和綠營眼中,這些當然是北京統戰手段,然而蔡英文要遏阻各縣市政府與大陸交往,並不容易。當然,台灣不少民眾政治上對大陸仍有很大抗拒,然而值得留意的是,去年台灣有綠營背景智庫調查發現,接受兩岸統一的台灣民眾顯著上升,達到26%,首度超過維持現狀的23%,支持台獨比率則由2016年超過五成,降至36%。

觀乎兩岸事態發展,不統不獨現狀難望永續,台灣民眾早晚要抉擇。可以想像,最終必然有人選擇統一,也一定有人寄望美國撐腰,孤注一擲選擇獨立,台灣問題發展走向,說到最後還是取決於中美關係。

過去兩年,由台灣旅行法、國防授權法,到最近特朗普簽署《亞洲再保證倡議法案》,華府實際已掏空了美國一中政策。美方加緊利用台灣牽制北京,必為台獨力量「壯膽」,北京要遏制台獨,有必要處理好外部力量對台灣事務的影響,對於美方暗撐明助台獨,單是口頭批評又或「堅決反對」,難有多少阻嚇作用。

■Glossary

fillip : a thing or person that causes sth to improve suddenly

showdown : an argument, a fight or a test that will settle a disagreement that has lasted for a long time

embolden : to make sb feel braver or more confident

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