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PRC a house divided over Taiwan’s military reunification

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Even at this stage, when tensions are high, the Communist Party Youth League has called for restraint and not to sacrifice the whole board for one piece (Taiwan).

Xi Jinping’s ascension to the post of General Secretary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2012 sparked a change in the PRC’s overall approach to domestic and international issues. At the 19th Party Congress, he explicitly set the recovery of territories lost to unequal treaties as a major objective, and statements by the highest leaders since then show that the word peaceful reunification has been added or deleted, as appropriate. for Taiwan. However, the Chinese reaction to Pelosis’ recently concluded visit shows that the tone is quickly being raised, but even then President Xi is being criticized for not taking appropriate action. Apart from the US intervention, the military reunification decision was also put on the back burner due to a divided home among the PRC’s elite. While some prefer coercion, others ignore it.
This state of affairs is conveyed by the multiplicity of authoritative voices from China. In a speech in February 2021, PLA Major General Jin Yinan mentioned Taiwan as a potential flashpoint for future conflict for China. The same warning, along with the mention of reunification, was issued by Wu Qian, spokesperson for the PLA and the People’s Armed Police Force delegation at the 4th session of the 13th NPC in March 2021.
Similarly, in July 2021, China’s Naval and Merchant Ships magazine published a detailed look at a three-stage surprise attack that could pave the way for an assault landing in Taiwan. An accompanying video was also posted on social media platform Weibo, with the message that we must solemnly warn some people that Taiwan’s road to independence only leads to a dead end.
However, an important and contrasting essay by Cui Lei, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed out on February 26, 2021 that mainland China is not in a position to take Taiwan by strength. . First, the domestic political risks are high, in the event of an unsuccessful show of force. Second, under the 20th NPC (2022), Xi Jinping needs a stable domestic political environment to ensure the extension of his term as General Secretary of the Communist Party. The tightrope approach to an incursion can jeopardize domestic stability, cause public discontent and stir up backlash that could scuttle its leadership.
Echoing similar sentiments, an important interview was published in the South China Morning Post on May 4, 2021 with retired Major General Qiao Liang, co-author of the book Unrestricted Warfare and Chinese foreign policy hawk, who has warned that the coronavirus pandemic should not be seen as a chance for Beijing to take back Taiwan by force. Qiao Liang said that while a decision to take Taiwan by force might not spur Washington to declare war, he could join forces with his allies in the region to use their sea and air advantages to cut the buoy of maritime rescue of Beijing in the South China Sea.
Even at this stage, when tensions are high, the Communist Party Youth League has called for restraint and not to sacrifice the whole board for one piece (Taiwan). Of course, when someone stings the Chinese with the Taiwan issue, they feel the sting. However, the United States and China should not let the situation spiral out of control and embark on a military confrontation sacrificing years of efforts to build the strategic partnership.
After analyzing some illustrations from Chinese leaders, academics, PLA veterans, etc., one thing is clear: there is no uniform view on Taiwan. Aggressive voices in the government and armed forces have grown due to the agenda set by President Xi at the 19th Party Congress (October 2017) linking national rejuvenation with the recovery of lost territories. This was further aggravated by the Sino-American trade war, which started after the announcement of this bold timetable (Made in China, 2035 and China as a Global Power, 2049) by the Chinese President and the non-respect by the DPP in power in Taiwan for the 1992 consensus.
The only common thread is that all these actors consider Taiwan an inalienable part of China, but they differ on their approach to achieving this unification. While some have called for military reunification, others are sticking to peaceful/smart reunification using cunning methods to manipulate their comrades across the strait.
It cannot be denied that the greatest deterrent against military action remains US actions in the South China Sea. As such, the PRC cares least about worldview or any normative framework. Rather, his cost-benefit analysis of forced reunification revolves around the United States and its allies, but one cannot ignore that Xi Jinping’s apparent reluctance to take military action is partly due to differences in the within the Chinese elite.

Namrata Hasija is a research fellow at the Center for Chinese Analysis and Strategy.

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