Chinese don’t fight Chinese, but they might invade your island

Foreign Affairs

On New Year’s Day, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) gave a speech (English, Chinese) in which she describes “four musts” (四個必須 sìgè bìxū) for a “healthy and normal” relationship between Beijing and Taipei:

I am calling on China that it must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan); it must respect the commitment of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freedom and democracy; it must handle cross-strait differences peacefully, on a basis of equality; and it must be governments or government-authorized agencies that engage in negotiations. These “four musts” are the most basic and crucial foundations that will determine whether cross-strait relations develop in a positive direction.

About 24 hours later, General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 gave a speech to mark the “40th Anniversary of the Chinese Mainland’s Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” (Xinhua report, full text of speech in Chinese). The vision of Taiwan’s future he set out was irreconcilable with Tsai’s. Some key points:

  • Unification of China and Taiwan is “the great trend of history” and an important part of Xi’s China Dream of national rejuvenation. Taiwan’s status is, according to Xi, not up for any kind of negotiation.
  • Under a “one country, two systems” framework, “the social system and way of life in Taiwan will be fully respected, and the private property, religious beliefs and legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots will be fully protected after peaceful reunification is realized,” promised Xi.
  • Xi made the laughable claim that “Chinese don’t fight Chinese,” which he rendered even more absurd by threatening Taiwan in his next breath: “We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means.”

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