Promoting the Peaceful Development of Relations Across the Taiwan Straits

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 15:07
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Our initiatives related to Taiwan have an important strategic bearing on the overall initiatives of the Party and the government. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as the General Secretary, we have made constant advances in our initiatives related to Taiwan, ushering in an unprecedented period of peaceful development in relations across the Taiwan Straits. At present, we are seizing opportunities and forging ahead in an effort to consolidate and deepen the peaceful development that we are now enjoying in cross-Straits relations. In turn, this will allow us to go on creating favorable conditions for China’s peaceful reunification.

A cross-Straits painting and calligraphy exhibition entitled “Harmony in China” was launched in Beijing on July 5, 2011. The event saw the exhibition of 120 artistic works belonging to artists from both the mainland and Taiwan. Annotating the notion of “harmony in China” through the language of art, the pieces on display vividly expressed the common desire of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. / Xinhua

I. Major progress in initiatives related to Taiwan

In March 2008, following years of efforts, a major victory was scored against separatist forces advocating the independence of Taiwan. From that point on, the situation in Taiwan began to develop in a positive direction, and we were presented with a rare historic opportunity for the development of relations across the Taiwan Straits. Faced with these new circumstances, the central leadership of the CPC, based on its accurate judgment of the situation, made a strategic decision to initiate a new phase of peaceful development in cross-Straits relations. Localities and departments throughout the country have worked earnestly to implement the decisions and guidelines set forth by the central leadership. Adhering to the theme of peaceful development in cross-Straits relations, we have taken pragmatic and effective steps to carry out initiatives related to Taiwan, pushed forward the historic transformation of relations across the Straits, and achieved a series of breakthroughs which have changed the overall face of cross-Straits relations.

First, by establishing a common political foundation for the development of cross-Straits relations, we have ensured that relations across the Taiwan Straits continue to develop soundly and in the right direction. The CPC and the Kuomintang (KMT) and both sides of the Straits share a commitment to opposing the independence of Taiwan and adhering to the 1992 Consensus. This is the basis for the establishment of mutual trust and the continuation of sound interactions between the two parties and the two sides. Organizations under the CPC and the KMT have held cross-Straits forums on the economy, trade, and culture on a frequent basis, which have served to spearhead important developments in relations across the Straits. The two sides of the Straits have advocated the principles of establishing mutual trust, putting aside disputes, seeking common ground while reserving differences, and pursuing mutual benefit. In line with these principles, and with a view to addressing easier issues before difficult ones, economic issues before political ones, and taking gradual but well-paced steps, both sides have adopted active policy measures to promote exchanges, cooperation, and dialogue. This approach has allowed us to reduce internal friction pertaining to external affairs and achieve a notable improvement in relations across the Straits.

Second, a series of major achievements in cross-Straits dialogue have promoted the institutionalization of exchanges and cooperation across the Straits. The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Straits Exchange Foundation resumed negotiations in June 2008 on the basis of mutual correspondence acknowledging the 1992 Consensus. A total of 16 agreements have been signed between the two sides over the past four years, which have not only addressed practical issues concerning the immediate interests of compatriots on both sides, but also set forth a series of institutionalized arrangements in regard to cross-Straits interactions. In particular, the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is of great and far-reaching significance, as it represents the beginning of economic integration across the Taiwan Straits.

Third, complete, direct, and two-way mail, transport, and trade links have been established, deepening economic cooperation across the Taiwan Straits. With the launch of regular air flights, direct shipping and mail, and investment by mainland enterprises in Taiwan, the 30-year wait for complete, direct, and two-way mail, transport, and trade across the Taiwan Straits has finally come to an end. The ECFA Early Harvest Program for Trade in Goods was implemented in the year 2011, and has been progressively expanded since. The volume of trade across the Taiwan Straits registered over US$160 billion for the first time last year. At the same time, investment from Taiwan’s enterprises in the mainland has increased on a constant basis; cooperation with regard to emerging industries has progressed steadily; and new breakthroughs have been made in financial cooperation. In addition, the formal establishment and launch of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Committee has helped to advance the institutionalization of economic cooperation across the Straits.

Fourth, the overall scale of exchanges across the Taiwan Straits has increased as exchanges have spread to almost every area. Localities and departments throughout the mainland have been involved in exchange activities with Taiwan. High ranking Party and government officials from almost 20 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government have personally led delegations on visits to Taiwan. Cultural and arts exchanges have become livelier than ever before. Contacts between all sectors of society, especially ordinary people, have grown on a constant basis. Exchanges have been taking place in all directions, over a wide range of fields, and on multiple-levels, and are coming to involve more variation, richer content, and wider participation. New ground has been broken in the holding of the Straits Forum for three consecutive years. The Straits Forum has become the largest exchange between members of the public on both sides of the Straits, attracting more participants from Taiwan than any other event. Following the successive launch of trials allowing tour groups and individual tourists from the mainland to travel to Taiwan, the mainland has rapidly become the largest source of tourists visiting Taiwan. The number of people traveling across the Taiwan Straits reached over 7 million person-times for the first time last year.

Fifth, the concept of peaceful development across the Taiwan Straits has been widely embraced, and the activities of separatist forces advocating the independence of Taiwan have been curbed. Compatriots on both sides of the Straits have found greater common interests through economic cooperation; enhanced their bonds through cultural exchanges; and strengthened their emotional ties through direct interactions. The growing trend of the peaceful development across the Straits has exerted an increasingly strong influence on the social situation and public opinion in Taiwan. Opinion polls show that nearly 70% of the general public in Taiwan is in favor of cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation and the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. Radical forces advocating the independence of Taiwan have been weakened, gradually losing their market in Taiwan. The situation of peace and stability on the Taiwan Straits and the improvement of cross-Straits relations have been praised highly by the international community.

We have engaged in a range of efforts to promote steady progress in cross-Straits relations during the election of leaders and representatives in Taiwan. By taking the right steps to address various challenges, we have been able to preserve the overall situation of peaceful development across the Straits. The outcome of these elections shows that our compatriots in Taiwan, when faced with a decision on the future of relations across the Taiwan Straits, acknowledged the significance of the 1992 Consensus in maintaining stability in the Taiwan Straits, and chose to continue their support for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. Peaceful development conforms to the common expectations and fundamental interests of compatriots on both sides of the Straits, and fact has proven that it is the correct approach to cross-Straits relations. Calls for the independence of Taiwan not only ignore reality, but also go against the will of the people. For this reason, no form of independence for Taiwan is plausible.

Our major achievements in initiatives related to Taiwan in recent years have come under the correct guidance and overall planning of the central leadership. They are the result of concerted and solid efforts among all localities and departments. Fact has shown that the major principles, decisions, and arrangements of the central leadership are correct; and that the major concepts and policy proposals for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations are valid.

II. The concept of the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Straits

The concept of the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and the subsequent policy proposals that have been formulated on this basis constitute key factors in driving the historic changes that have taken place in cross-Straits relations.

On December 31, 2008 General Secretary Hu Jintao delivered an important speech at a symposium commemorating the 30th anniversary of the issuing of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan. In his speech, Hu Jintao reviewed the historic progress that has been made in the development of cross-Straits relations under the principles of “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems” established by Deng Xiaoping and the eight-point proposal for developing cross-Straits relations proposed by Jiang Zemin. The speech also looked back over the basic experiences that have been accumulated in three decades of initiatives related to Taiwan. From the perspective of the development of the nation as a whole, Hu Jintao expounded on the major concept and policy of the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations for the first time during the speech, building on the central leadership’s major principles and policies on initiatives related to Taiwan. This pointed out the direction for the promotion of cross-Straits relations at a new starting point in history, serving as the guiding principle for our initiatives related to Taiwan under a new situation. The concept of the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations is set to demonstrate stronger vitality and driving power as our initiatives related to Taiwan move forwards.

First, this concept links the effort to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations with the effort to rejuvenate the Chinese nation, representing the inherent requirements for safeguarding the overall interests of the Chinese nation and realizing the peaceful reunification of the motherland. It is demonstrative of the wider strategic thinking adopted by the central leadership. Promoting the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations has become an indispensable part of our national rejuvenation.

Second, this concept clearly points out that the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations must be ensured before the peaceful reunification of the country can be achieved. It emphasizes that upholding the principle that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China is the political foundation for promoting the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. At the same time, it also stresses that the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations should be approached through the deepening of exchanges and cooperation and the advancing of consultation and talks, and driven forward by the unity and joint efforts of compatriots on both sides of the Straits under the precondition of continued opposition to separatist forces advocating the independence of Taiwan. This concept has given us the answer to the questions of why we need to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and how we must go about achieving this. Embodying a pragmatic spirit, it demonstrates a profound understanding of the laws governing the development of cross-Straits relations.

Third, this concept has paved the way for the development of cross-Straits relations. The policies that have been made or proposed on the basis of this concept involve the political foundation for development, economic cooperation, cultural exchanges, people-to-people contacts, dialogue on external affairs, and the resolution of political and military issues. These policies and policy proposals have pointed out the direction for our efforts to construct a framework for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. Conforming to the inherent requirements for promoting relations across the Straits, they have not only demonstrated the sincerity and goodwill of the mainland, but also addressed the rational claims of Taiwan.

Fourth, this concept gives prominence to the status that compatriots on both sides of the Straits enjoy as masters of the nation. Clearly stressing the objective of common wellbeing, this concept emphasizes that the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations not only depends on compatriots on both sides of the Straits, but should also be for their common benefit. In this sense, it embodies the basic principles of putting people first and seeking benefits for the people.

Fifth, this concept constitutes an important part of China’s strategy of peaceful development. China has declared its commitment to pursuing a strategy of peaceful development. It is committed to pursuing its own approach to becoming a strong country, one that differs from the approach of traditional world powers. The core of this strategy is strengthening our capacity to safeguard peace through development, and addressing issues confronting us on the path ahead through peaceful means. This has been demonstrated in our efforts to develop cross-Straits relations and seek the peaceful reunification of the country. Moreover, progress in the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations will continue to enrich China’s strategy of peaceful development.

III. Consolidating and promoting the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and creating a new phase in our initiatives related to Taiwan

Having ushered in a period of peaceful development in cross-Straits relations, we are now entering a new stage in which this trend must be consolidated and deepened. We need to launch effective efforts in all fields to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and make further progress in this respect, so as to create favorable conditions for the peaceful reunification of the motherland. To do so, we need to resolutely implement the major principles and policies related to Taiwan defined by the central leadership, focus on advancing the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, and comprehensively unite with compatriots in Taiwan.

First, we need to consolidate the foundations for mutual political trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and deepen the common recognition that the two sides belong to one China. Mutual trust and sound interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits on the basis of opposition to separatism and commitment to the 1992 Consensus constitute key factors in promoting the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. Future progress requires that the two sides of the Taiwan Straits enhance and expand mutual trust. At present, with regard to the fundamental issue of recognizing that the two sides belong to one China and safeguarding the framework of one China, it is especially important that both sides come to a clearer understanding and adopt a common stance. This will lay down stronger foundations for the development of cross-Straits relations, provide brighter prospects for the resolution of challenges in cross-Straits relations, and create more favorable conditions for the wellbeing of compatriots on both sides of the Straits, especially those in Taiwan.

Second, we need to consolidate our achievements in cross-Straits economic and trade relations and expand mutual benefit and cooperation. At present, we are facing new opportunities for economic cooperation across the Taiwan Straits. The focus of our efforts is the promotion of follow-up consultations and talks for all programs under ECFA, and our aim is to make substantive progress and reach agreements as soon as possible. We need to advance cross-Straits cooperation in finance, strengthen cooperation in emerging industries, and encourage two-way investment across the Taiwan Straits. We will continue to pay attention to and provide support for the development of Taiwan enterprises on the mainland. To do this, we need to effectively safeguard the due and legitimate rights and interests of enterprises from Taiwan, and help them to resolve the difficulties that they face in regard to production and operation, so as to accelerate their upgrading and boost their markets in the mainland. We will continue to promote the construction of the Western Taiwan Straits Economic Zone and the Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone, and allow these zones to play a pioneering role in cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation.

Third, we need to build on the comprehensive exchanges that are taking place in all sectors across the Taiwan Straits and deepen exchanges in culture and education. On the basis of the framework for comprehensive cross-Straits exchanges that has been established, we need to define standards and mechanisms for exchange activities; improve the quality of exchanges and cooperation; and strive to produce real effects and results through such activities. At the same time, we need to increase contacts and interactions between members of the general public on both sides of the Straits so as to forge closer ties, deepen emotional bonds, and further integrate the interests of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. We need to increase exchanges in culture and education and carry forward the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation in order to remove barriers, promote mutual understanding, and strengthen the cultural and ethnic identity shared by compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. This will help to provide a strong ideological, cultural, and spiritual foundation on which to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.

Fourth, we need to win greater public support for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and deepen the emotional bonds between compatriots on both sides. We need to ensure that the principle of placing our hopes on the people of Taiwan is fully implemented throughout the course of all our efforts related to Taiwan. In this regard, we need to sincerely care about, respect, understand, and trust our compatriots in Taiwan. We need to better understand their needs, do more for them, and adopt more measures for their benefit so as to ensure that more and more people in Taiwan, especially ordinary people, can benefit from cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation. We need to motivate the general public in Taiwan to participate actively in cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, and encourage them to tie their immediate interests and career development more closely to the development of cross-Straits relations. We must unite with compatriots in Taiwan, gather people from all walks of life who support the improvement and development of cross-Straits relations, and constantly build up mainstream public opinion in favor of the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. This will provide a sustained driving force for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.8, 2012)

Author: Director of the Office of Taiwan Affairs of the CPC Central Committee

  

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