At 7:30 p.m. on January 14, the 113rd “Cross-Strait Talk” (General 189th), hosted by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) and Xiamen Qidataixiang Entrepreneurship Service Co., Ltd. , was successfully held at the Tencent Conference with the theme of “Changes and Prospects of Cross-Strait Relation in 2023 ’”.
In 2022, Taiwan’s politics experienced the “Nine-in-One Election” in which the DPP was defeated by the KMT. The “anti-China protecting Taiwan” card of the DPP was completely invalid in this election. Tsai Ing-wen resigned as the chairman of the DPP, Lai Ching-te took over. In such conditions, the DPP has also changed from the “anti-China protecting Taiwan” to the “peaceful protection of Taiwan” since 2023. At the same time, 2023 is also the “election year” in Taiwan. What political forces such as Blue camp, Green camp and White camp will discuss on cross-strait relations will affect the changes in cross-strait relations in 2023. The Sino-US rivalry, the Russian-Ukraine conflict and the fickle international situation also affect the development of cross-strait relations in 2023. Song Tao, the new director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee in 2023, also clearly pointed out that achieving reunification by peaceful means is most beneficial to compatriots on both sides of the Straits and the whole nation. At the same time, Song Tao also stressed that resolving the Taiwan question is the Chinese people’s own business, and any attempt to split Taiwan from China will never succeed. Therefore, looking forward the 2023, what will be the changes in Cross-Strait relations is a topic of concern for all walks of life on both sides of the Straits. In this “Cross-Strait Talk” forum, the China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong) specially invited experts and scholars from both sides of the Strait, including Pan Zhaomin, the professor of the General Education Center of Tunghai University, part-time professor of the Department of Political Science and executive director of the Institute of Cross-Strait Relations of the Consortium Legal Person, Peng Tao, deputy director of the Center for Asian Studies at Central China Normal University, Ma Zhunwei, the assistant professor of the Institute of Strategy of Tamkang University and doctor of political science of National Taiwan University, and Cao Xi, the associate professor of the School of History and Taiwan Research Center in Anhui University, exchanged views on the issue of “Changes and Prospects of Cross-Strait Relation in 2023 ’”. They focused on that looking back the relations between Cross-Strait in 2022, will the relations in 2023 be “detente”, “peace” or “tension”, what role will Taiwan play in the development of Cross-Strait relations under the competition between China and the United States and the international situation, how will the mainland view the Cross-Strait policy discourse of the Blue camp, Green camp and White camp of the 2024 general election, and what are the key factors for the development of cross-Strait relations in 2023. Luo Dingjun, the Secretary General of the China Cross-Straits Research Academy (Hong Kong), served as the moderator of the meeting.
Pan Zhaomin said that looking back to the difficulties in the development between the two sides in 2022, we can often hear the mainland’s description which Taiwan wants achieve separation by the Covid-19 epidemic, and the DPP is also constantly holding the “anti-China protecting Taiwan” card to rely on the United States to seek separation. Over the past year, there had been a lack of mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and endless large-scale cognitive warfare had been occurred. Under the deliberate operation of intentional politicians, irrational misunderstandings and public opinion confrontations between the two sides rose one after another. Because of the opposition of public opinion between the both sides of the Taiwan Straits, the international media described Taiwan as the most dangerous place in the world, and believed that Taiwan was regarded as a tool and a chess piece, and Taiwan seemed to have become a challenge for major countries to compete.
Peng Tao believed that looking forward to the Cross-Strait relations in 2023, at present, “detente” is temporary, “peace” is two-way, and “tension” is normal. The DPP’s defeat in the “Nine-in-One” election was mainly due to the failure of the card of “anti-China protecting Taiwan”. The vote of people also shows their dissatisfaction with the DPP’s long-term manipulation of ideology and the cutting of the relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. And the DPP should also have made a profound reflection on this, so the DPP authorities are now tending to be moderate towards the mainland, which has shown that the strained relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August last year are softening. In the meeting between the leaders of China and the United States, President Biden’s statement was also upgraded from “The United States does not seek to have a ‘new cold war’ with China, to change China’s system, to oppose China through strengthening alliances, to support ‘Taiwan separation’, and to have no intention of conflict with China” to “The United States has no intention to change the system of China, seek to a ‘new cold war’, to oppose China by strengthening alliance, support ‘Taiwan separation’, ‘Two China’ and ‘one China and one Taiwan’”, indicating that the United States is not very supportive of the DPP’s policy of “anti-China protecting Taiwan”, and does not hope that the relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan will deteriorate again, which leads to conflicts between China and the United States.
Ma Zhunwei proposed that 2022 is a year of chaos in the relationship among the United States, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan Province, which coincided with the mid-term elections of the United States, the 20th National Congress of CPC of the Chinese Mainland, and the “Nine-in-One” elections in Taiwan. The three parties have their own agendas within each other, thus forming a situation that is difficult to compromise. Therefore, in 2022, the relations between the United States and China and the Cross-strait relations were very intense. However, with the meeting between the leaders of China and the United States in the second half of last year, the trend of cooperation between the two sides became clearer, and the relationship between the United States and China and the relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan also gradually entered a state of relaxation.
Cao Xi said that if the communication between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan can be resumed after the Covid-19 epidemic, the Cross-Strait relations will tend to ease on the whole. The people on both sides have very high expectations for the resumption of communication. After passing the difficult period of the epidemic, all conditions in 2023 will be more mature than before. Of course, it is also not ruled out that Taiwan will once again hold the card of “anti-China protecting Taiwan” in order to meet the 2024 general election. Between China and the United States, Taiwan has a sense of powerlessness. Taiwan knows that it is regarded as a pawn but still going to be close to the United States intentionally or unintentionally, and it is trapped in the situation of relying on the United States for separation. The Chinese mainland’s attitude towards cross-strait relations has always been firm and clear, and the cross-strait policy discourses of the Blue camp, the White camp and the Green camp should work towards the goal of peaceful reunification if they take into account the views of the Chinese mainland.
In addition to the wonderful speeches delivered by the guests, the online audience also actively participated in the interactive Q&A on the topic. The audience’s questions involved the DPP government’s insistence on extending Taiwan’s compulsory military service from four months to one year, and how it would affect the support rate of the political parties in the 2024 Taiwan leadership election. All the guests at the meeting answered these questions, and the discussion was heated, highlighting the great concern of young people and scholars on Cross-Strait on the topic.
Among them, Pan Zhaomin pointed out that at present, young people in Taiwan generally believe that “the peaceful protection of Taiwan” is more beneficial to Taiwan, and have doubts about the excessive pro-American behavior of the DPP. Although young people in Taiwan are shouting to defend Taiwan, they do not want to go to fight in person, and their parents are more worried about this. If the effect of the “suspicious of young people in Taiwan about the United States” continues to expand, coupled with the impact of the extension of military service, it may have a greater negative effect on the consolidation of the DPP’s power. Peng Tao believed that the extension of military service by the DPP authorities would only further aggravate the tension across the Taiwan Strait. The duration of military service would increase from four months to one year, which not only won’t change substantially Taiwan’s combat capability but also will put Taiwan in a dangerous situation. Therefore, after the “Nine-in-One” election, the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan has changed fundamentally, and the pursuit of peace and stability is the greatest vision. Ma Zhunwei pointed out that under the situation of rising hostility between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, the Chinese mainland’s military power in Taiwan will continue to increase, which will also enhance Taiwan’s military preparedness for security considerations. The loss of mutual trust between the two sides will only deepen the opposition, and promoting cross-strait exchanges is the best way to resolve misunderstandings. Cao Xi said that in Taiwan society, the young generation has become an important group that needs attention. The adjustment of Taiwan’s extended compulsory military service system concerns not only the young people themselves, but also the whole family behind them. The problem of below-replacement fertility in Taiwan has brought great pressure to the society, and the younger generation is very valuable. To promote cross-strait exchanges, the Chinese mainland can introduced more favorable policies to attract young people from Taiwan to develop in the Chinese mainland.
At the end of the meeting, Pao Zhaomin said that the two sides should pay more attention to the construction of peace and reduce mutual provocation. For Taiwan, the best way to avoid cross-strait conflict is to invest in cross-strait peace rather than invest in armaments. Peng Tao pointed out that the three years of the epidemic had led to the suspension of official exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and civil exchanges had also been greatly affected. After the epidemic, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan should step up efforts to promote business, education and cultural exchanges, and create more welfare and win-win opportunities for compatriots on both sides. Ma Zhunwei said that from a historical perspective, the relationship between the two sides is not at its worst. The compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits can still maintain close contact through online and offline platforms. Communication may bring many deep-seated problems to the surface. With the wisdom of the Chinese people on both sides of the Straits, we will find suitable solutions to make the relationship between the two sides better and better. Cao Xi believed that cross-strait relations and China-US relations had indeed experienced great fluctuations in 2022, but the expectations of the Chinese mainland for the peaceful reunification of the two sides have remained unchanged. From the perspective of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the difficulties encountered by the two sides are only a stage test. For the Taiwan question, the Chinese mainland will also make the best preparation and the worst plan in 2023.
Through a brief 2-hour online exchange, more than 180 people from both sides of the strait gathered to discuss the topic of “Changes and Prospects of Cross-Strait Relation in 2023 ’”, to promote cross-strait exchanges with practical actions, and make contributions to maintaining cross-strait peace and development. As the cross-strait exchange activity synchronized with “Cross-Strait Talk” and “Smart Youth Integration in the Four Places”, the Cross-Strait Youth Perspective Forum, which launched by China Cross-Strait Academy (Hong Kong), is mainly characterized by gathering authoritative scholars and media worker from Cross-Strait and four places. They will listen to the voice of the Strait, pay attention to the hot spots on both sides of Taiwan Strait, take a global vision, and make a new voice based on both sides of the strait and facing the world.