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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:15, July 28, 2004
China sets clear timetable for solving Taiwan issue: HK newspaper
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According to a report from the Hong Kong-based Wen Wai Po, the CPC Central Committee recently held a "very important meeting" in Beijing, which sent out an important message and brought up the timetable for solving the Taiwan issue -"Solution of the Taiwan question cannot be delayed indefinitely", and "although the first two decades of this century are a 'development opportunity period' for China, settlement of the Taiwan issue during this period cannot be ruled out".

"Timetable" crystallized
As the saying goes, "a tossed stone raises a thousand ripples", this news touched off many discussions among the mass media at home and abroad, and aroused great concern among the local authority and the public in Taiwan. A Kuomintang official with the mainland affairs department said, "the vicious inter-excitation across the Straits will lead to a continual escalation of military struggle", "with the further estrangement of cross-Strait political ties, it has led to a rise in Beijing's sense of crisis and its increasing inclination to make violent reaction to 'Taiwan independence'", he called upon the Chen Shui-bian authority to be cautious about that".

Several years ago there was already a big fuss about the topic concerning the mainland's drafting of a timetable for a solution of the Taiwan issue. After Chen Shui-bian dished out last year his "timetable for Taiwan independence" by "enacting a constitution" in 2006 and enforcing the "new constitution" in 2008, the question as to whether the mainland would work out a corresponding "timetable for reunification" also aroused wide concern and guess for quite a while. But, in the writer's memory, this is the first time that Wen Wai PO in Hong Kong openly came out to spread words about the "timetable" explicitly set by the mainland for the settlement of the Taiwan issue. Furthermore, worthy of note is that after the news was disclosed, no mainland officials have so far come out to deny or "clarify" the matter, it is thus crystal clear that that is not a groundless rumor.

As is known to all, "The Taiwan question cannot be delayed indefinitely" is a frequent statement on the lips of mainland officials, especially officials involved in Taiwan affairs. However, what kind of a concept is the statement "cannot be delayed indefinitely"? Does it mean 10 years, 20 years, or 50 years? No one has ever given a clear answer. Now, this concept has become clear, as it is expressed in the statement "the first two decades of this century is a development opportunity period for China, settlement of the Taiwan issue during this period cannot be ruled out."

Three characteristics
Having pondered over this "timetable" carefully, this writer believes there are at least the following three major characteristics.

First, a period of time is clearly set. Since it is a "timetable for reunification", it is only natural that a relatively clear time limit should be stipulated--the first two decades of this century, that is, within the 16 years from 2004 to 2020, "settlement of the Taiwan issue within this period cannot be ruled out" expressed the strong determination and will of allowing no "indefinite delay of the solution of the Taiwan question". This actually means giving a "military order".

Second, "flexibility" of tactical thinking. After the disclosure of the "timetable for reunification", many people on the outside asserted that the mainland was to "reunify Taiwan with the mainland in 2020". This is a misinterpretation. If that were the case, it would mean a foolish move taken by the mainland to "bind itself hand and foot". As a matter of fact, this "timetable" contains two-faceted meanings. Firstly, it does say "cannot be ruled out", but it doesn't say the Taiwan issue "must" be solved in the first 20 years of this century, in other words, time can still be possibly extended; secondly, the time set for the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan can also be possibly "shortened", that is, or at any point of "this period of time" before 2020, there is the possibility that the Taiwan question is resolved ahead of schedule. Therefore, this "timetable" is of great "flexibility" or "elasticity".

As subjective and objective situations are changing all the time, if too much and too rigid words are put, or things are handled improperly, the result would not only be "binding oneself hand and foot" and "turning out to be a clumsy sleight of hand", there is also the possibility of landing oneself in passivity, in that case, it would be disadvantageous to an early solution of the Taiwan issue. Clearly, the "timetable for reunification" leaves room for movement and space for adjustment, and this is obviously a scientific, realistic and cleverest tactic.

Third, containing the purposefulness of "Taiwan independence". In recent years, "Taiwan independence" forces on the Island have become increasingly rampant, one of the important reasons for this is that they misjudged the situation, believing that the mainland sets its mind on a "peaceful rise", is concentrated on developing itself heart and soul by seizing the "strategic opportunity period" in the first 20 years of this century, so they act arbitrarily and recklessly, and the mainland is compelled to swallow up the bitter fruit resulting therefrom, for a while, the "theory about the harmlessness of Taiwan independence" has run wild, deceiving a great number of kind and amiable Taiwan public. Worse still, Lee Teng-hui went so far as to declare openly that 2008 will be a critical point for Taiwan "establishing an independent state", apparently referring specifically to Beijing's hosting the Olympic Games in 2008. While Chen Shui-bian brazenly dished out his "timetable for independence" by "enacting constitution through referendum" in 2006 and "enforcing the new constitution" in 2008. In light of this situation, the mainland promptly set forth the "timetable for reunification", making it clear that "although the first two decades of this century are a development opportunity period for China, settlement of the Taiwan issue during this period cannot be ruled out", that is to say, the "timetable for Taiwan independence" is also the "timetable for reunification", if "Taiwan independence" forces dare to tread on the bottom line of the mainland and really transform the "timetable for Taiwan independence" into policy and hasten its implementation during the "election" period, then the mainland will stop the "Taiwan independence" move at any cost and relentlessly settle the Taiwan issue ahead of time. This represents a head-on blow to Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian and the like as well as behind-the-scene instigators.

"Strategic opportunity period" won through fighting
The "timetable for solution of the Taiwan issue" set forth at this moment by the mainland on its own initiative reflects from one aspect the severity of the current cross-Strait situation and the adjustment of its policy tactic toward Taiwan. Apparently, this adjustment is timely and entirely logical. It conforms to the present central task of containing "Taiwan independence" and runs parallel and complements with the basic national policies of focusing on economic construction and of "seizing strategic opportunity to develop the mainland itself". It will show its tremendous power with the passage of time.

It must be understood that the "strategic opportunity period" is a result of struggle, not a bestowing from anyone. The mainland's "timetable for reunification" serves as a circle drawn for Taiwan separatists - it's just like the center of Buddha's palm, we would like to see whether you dare, and can jump out of it.

By People's Daily Online

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