Xi Jinping’s Taiwan comments likely to scuttle talks, analysts say

South China Morning Post
Date: 06 January, 2019
By: Lawrence Chung

  • A recent speech by the Chinese president used a ‘one-China’ principle that redefined the cross-strait understanding
  • A different emphasis and different interpretation by Beijing and Taipei

Official talks between Taiwan and mainland China are unlikely to be held in the foreseeable future now that an understanding intended to allow the two sides to ditch their differences has been redefined, leaving the self-ruled island with no room to manoeuvre, observers said.

In a speech on Wednesday to mark the 40th anniversary of Beijing’s call to end military confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two sides should begin talks on reunification to end the decades of animosity.

But in laying the “1992 consensus” as the sole foundation for talks with the self-ruled island, Xi rephrased it as an understanding that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, jointly seeking to achieve cross-strait unification”, which was a departure from existing versions of the consensus, analysts and officials in Taiwan said.

Xi also asked Taiwan to select representatives from various sectors for “peaceful unification” talks on using the “one country, two systems” approach.

“What Xi said fully exposed Beijing’s intention to destroy the Republic of China and its ambition to take over Taiwan,” Chen Ming-tung, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said at a news conference on Thursday in Taipei.

Xi’s version of the consensus sharply differed from that formerly held by Beijing and now held by the mainland-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) in Taiwan, he said.

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