On Monday, a defense analyst said China’s military stance on Taiwan is likely to continue for the next 12 months as tensions between the two sides intensify.
Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at RAND Corporation’s think tank, told CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia:
“I want to say that Beijing is really disappointed with the deepening of US-Taiwan relations in all areas, especially security,” Grossman said.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has been pressuring the Democratic Republic to accept Beijing’s rule.
Frankly, the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing has never controlled Taiwan. But China claims the island is a fugitive province that needs to be reunited with the mainland using force if necessary.
Shi has promised ‘peaceful reunion’
“We will continue to strengthen our national defenses and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves so that no one can force Taiwan to take the path that China has chosen for us.”
“This is because the path that China has taken is neither an independent and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor the sovereignty of our 2 billion people,” he said.
China has previously offered Taiwan a model of “one country, two systems” – similar to Hong Kong. But the proposal is “extremely popular” in Taiwan, says Grossman of the Rand Corporation.
Hours after Xi’s speech, the Chinese government’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a Mandarin-language statement, translated by CNBC, that Xi “supported Taiwan’s independence, incited conflict, distorted history and distorted the truth.”
US relations with Taiwan
Earlier this month, China sent a record number of military aircraft to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone – a military accident raising international concern.
The United States has no official diplomatic relations with Taiwan. But through the Taiwan Relations Act, Washington is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the western Pacific, as well as providing arms to the island for its defense.
Eyes on Taiwan’s next president
Grossman said Taiwan’s next presidential election in 2024 will be an important event that could shape the course of Sino-Taiwan tensions.
Tsai in his second and final four-year presidential term.
Grossman said China was “extremely concerned” that current Taiwan’s vice president, William Lai Ching, would run for president of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
“They believe he actually wants freedom,” he explained.
The defense analyst added that Xi has appeared in his language mood with a promise of “peaceful reunion” with Taiwan. By comparison, Xi said in July on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party that China must take decisive action to defeat any attempt at Taiwan’s independence.
“I think Xi Jinping wants to be a little more subtle because the last thing you want to do is persuade the people of Taiwan to elect William Lai in 2024,” Grossman said.
“Beijing consistently doesn’t trust Tsai Ing-wen even though he was a real pragmatic president – they called him a pro-independence, separatist,” he said. “But here you have William Lai, who has publicly called for Taiwan’s independence, and so I think there is some subtle tactics going on here.”