A country of 23-million people, Taiwan (Republic of China) has sent out a strong message to Chinese President Xi Jinping and set an example for other small Asian nations which have often found themselves in the cross-hairs of China’s growing assertiveness on the continent.
After Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen categorically rejected Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for re-unification in a firm message on January 2, the people of the Chinese-speaking island have followed suit. Majority of Taiwan’s public have now rejected a controversial “1992 Consensus” reached with the Mainland, which emphasised that there is only “One China,” according to results of an opinion poll on the subject.
While 45 per cent of those interviewed rejected the “1992 Consensus” that President Xi often cites to push his case for re-unification, thirty-two per cent of the respondents supported the agreement, according to an opinion poll conducted by the Cross-Strait Policy Association. Almost one-fifth of those surveyed refused to give any opinion, in a survey that sought the views of 1,098 respondents drawn from different sections of the Taiwanese public.
In a further snub to Beijing, Taiwan’s China-friendly opposition also rejected any “reunification,” saying such a plan “lacked public support.”
The results of the crucial survey came after Taiwan’s democratically-elected leader, President Tsai, for the first time in her tenure rejected the “One China, two systems policy.” China has often cited the One China Policy to re-assert its claim over Taiwan, and the policy is the cornerstone of Beijing’s diplomatic relations with other major powers, including the US and India.
While US and India, like many other UN member states, don’t have any formal relations with Taiwan, at least on paper, they do enjoy rather good relations with the island country. The US has emerged as the largest arms seller to Taiwan and has vowed to defend the country from any potential Chinese aggression, which remains the bone of contention between the world’s two biggest economies.
Much to Beijing’s displeasure, Taiwan has been courting India and other countries in south-east Asia, as part of its New Southbound Policy (NSP), which aims to consolidate China’s economic and diplomatic ties in the face of ever more assertive China.
"The vast majority of Taiwanese also resolutely oppose one country, two systems, and this opposition is also a Taiwan consensus," Tsai said in her rebuttal address to President Xi.
In a widely-publicised address earlier, Xi had stated that Taiwan “must and will” be re-united with China. The Communist Party of China (CPC) chairman had also threatened the use of force to achieve his objective of re-unification with Taiwan, the only democracy in the Chinese-speaking world.
Taiwan, whose military capabilities dwarf that of its Mainland neighbour, however urged President Xi to recognise the wishes of 23 million Taiwanese people.
“China must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and not deny the democratic system that the people of Taiwan have established together,” said Tsai.