Mainland China withdrew promises to not send troops to Taiwan if it took control of the island, according to a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) white paper released on Aug. 10 titled “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era.” The paper was possibly rushed out after the high-profile visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It also reduces the concept of ‘One country two systems’ to something similar to what Beijing currently allows for Hong Kong under the National Security Law since 2020.
The document is otherwise similar to two previous white papers, published in 1993 and 2000. In the newest version, the CCP omits a vow that it would “not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan.” Instead it reads: “We will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.” Also, “We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary means to interference by external forces or radical action by separatist elements.”
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The continued focus on “radical separatists” and guarantees to “leave no room for separatist activities in any form” in Taiwan is notable, given that CCP propaganda describes the current president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, and her independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party as separatists.
The CCP claims that Taiwan is a rogue province of its People’s Republic of China that must be united under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary. However, democratic Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP. It is formally known as the Republic of China (ROC), which retreated to the island after its defeat on the mainland in the Chinese civil war with the communists.
CCP authorities have generally proposed that Taiwan be compelled into annexation through a “one country, two systems” model, similar to when Hong Kong came into Chinese rule in 1997. However, the new Paper states: “Taiwan may continue its current social system and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law”, omitting verbiage about governance.
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But at any rate, every mainstream Taiwanese political party has rejected the “one country, two systems” concept after what has happened to Hong Kong. The publication of the white paper comes just a week after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan. The CCP used that visit to justify its largest ever military exercises around Taiwan, which effectively blockaded the island from some international shipping and saw Chinese missiles fired into Japanese waters.
The ROC Mainland Affairs Council condemned the paper, saying that it’s “full of lies” and that Taiwan is a sovereign nation. “Only Taiwan’s 23 million people have the right to decide on the future of Taiwan,” the council stated. “They will never accept an outcome set by an autocratic regime.”