China says it has patience needed to bring Taiwan under control
published : 21 Sep 2022 at 16:15
China said it has the patience to someday bring Taiwan under its control, partly because “compatriots” there want it to happen -- a view that contrasts with polling showing sceptical views of Beijing in the democracy.
“With regard to resolving the Taiwan question and realising the complete unification of China, we have strategic composure and historic patience, and we are also full of confidence,” Qiu Kaiming, an official in a Chinese government department that handles ties with the island, said Wednesday.
“More and more Taiwan compatriots realise the future of Taiwan lies in national unification,” said Qiu, who was speaking at a briefing in Beijing held by the Taiwan Affairs Office to recap ties over the past decade. He added that “the vast majority of Taiwan people oppose independence.”
A survey in August that was commissioned by the Taiwan government found some two-thirds of respondents saw Beijing as unfriendly to them, the highest level in more than two decades. More than a quarter said they backed immediate or eventual independence, while less than 10% supported unification at some point.
The polling came just after Nancy Pelosi became the first sitting US House speaker to visit Taipei in 25 years, prompting the People’s Liberation Army to hold unprecedented military drills and send ballistic missiles over the island.
China regularly touts the measures it takes to try to win over the 23 million people of Taiwan, such as introducing policies to attract businesses and students. Last year, it also made it easier for Taiwan’s agricultural and forestry sector to do business on the mainland.
Yet is has threatened to take Taiwan by force if necessary. It also punishes businesses and political donors with links to independence supporters, and strives to counter President Tsai Ing-wen’s campaign to boost the island’s international profile.
Last week, Taiwan accused China of bullying a beauty pageant contestant from the island after she was unable to appear at an event in Malaysia.
Qiu’s comments may be an effort by Beijing to manage public expectations after Pelosi’s visit, which some nationalist voices on the mainland urged the government to respond to by stopping her plane from landing, or even shooting it down.
Deng Yuwen, a former editor of a Communist Party newspaper, said at the time that the public disappointment was “a huge blow” to the authority of China’s leader, Xi Jinping.
Xi, 69, may spell out his plans for Taiwan at a key congress of the ruling Communist Party starting Oct 16, when he’s expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term in power. He’ll describe unification as a long-term goal, Kyodo News of Japan reported Tuesday, citing unidentified party and government sources.
TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang sidestepped a question at the briefing on Wednesday about China’s timetable for taking control of Taiwan, saying only that “it’s a historic trend that no one will be able to stop.”
Separately, the US sent a destroyer through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday that was accompanied by a Canadian frigate, the Seventh Fleet’s press office said in a statement.
It was the first joint transit by the two nations since October last year, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. The US has sent eight vessels through the body of water some 160 km (100 miles) wide in 2022, broadly in line with the number over the past three years.
The Chinese military said it followed them through the strait, without providing details on how that was done. It called the move by US and Canada a “publicity stunt”, and added the Asian nation opposed threats and provocations.