After the Chinese government expressed its hope on Wednesday (February 1) that it hopes to work with Taiwan to promote the restoration of normal operation of air routes across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday that Taiwan’s “communication door is always open” and Taiwan is willing to use rationality, equality and mutual Start a dialogue with Beijing with respect to promote healthy and orderly exchanges between the two sides after the epidemic. Some scholars believe that this exchange between the two sides may be a test for the normalization of cross-strait relations.
Tsai Ing-wen made this statement while attending the “2023 Spring Festival Friendship Event for Taiwanese Businessmen from Mainland China” organized by the Straits Exchange Foundation. Tsai Ing-wen said that maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is the common responsibility of both sides, and it is also the common expectation of all people. Promoting healthy and orderly exchanges after the epidemic is also an important basis for consolidating the peaceful and stable development of the two sides.
“I would also like to reiterate that our door of communication is always open. Under rationality, equality, and mutual respect, we are willing to engage in dialogue with the Beijing authorities to jointly seek a feasible way that is acceptable to both sides and promotes regional peace and stability. ,”she says.
MAC: China must provide accurate information on the epidemic
Qiu Taisan, chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council who attended the networking event with Tsai Ing-wen, confirmed in an interview with the media after the event that Beijing did propose to resume the flight point, but Taiwan needs China to provide accurate information on the epidemic. , the relevant government departments are also doing assessment and discussion.
“The epidemic situation in the mainland is ups and downs, and the control measures in various places are not so easy to confirm and be trusted,” Qiu Taisan said. If the information in the mainland can be more transparent, the speed of cross-strait resumption of routes and exchanges will be faster.
On February 1, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China, stated in an “answer to reporters’ questions” that the Chinese aviation authority had sent a letter to Taiwan through the contact channel of the “Air Transport Agreement across the Taiwan Strait” on the same day, expressing that the current cross-strait epidemic situation is stable, “Yes It is a favorable opportunity to further resume the normal operation of cross-strait air routes. I hope that you and I will meet each other halfway to promote the restoration of normal operation of cross-strait air routes.” Priority can be given to the resumption of 16 cross-strait direct flight destinations such as Guangzhou, where Taiwan compatriots’ complaints are concentrated.
Before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, there were 51 direct flights between the two sides of the Strait in China and 10 in Taiwan. However, there are currently only four cities in China with direct flights: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xiamen.
KMT: Advocating dialogue but being discredited
Regarding Tsai Ing-wen’s willingness to start a dialogue with China on “healthy and orderly” exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait after the epidemic, Zhu Lilun, chairman of the Kuomintang, said in an interview with the media after hosting a press conference of the party’s think tank on Thursday that dialogue and exchanges have long been advocated by the Kuomintang , but was “constantly maliciously criticized and maliciously smeared” by the DPP. He welcomed President Tsai Ing-wen to follow the KMT’s line, but don’t say one thing and do another, and continue to smear the KMT.
“Every time we have a dialogue, every exchange, it seems that the DPP keeps blocking, blocking, blocking, scolding, scolding, scolding, red, red, red, even our committee member Chen Yuzhen and the county magistrate Chen Fuhai To solve the problem of gin—a county magistrate elected locally, a legislator elected locally to solve local people’s livelihood issues—isn’t this what it should be? Such exchanges and dialogues are still wiped out red.”
Zhu Lilun said that although the Democratic Progressive Party has launched constant attacks from the party’s central spokesperson, flanking machines, and media, the KMT still firmly believes that cross-strait relations rely on solid national defense on the one hand and exchanges and dialogue on the other. He and all foreign friends It’s all said that, now “President Tsai wants to follow the Kuomintang’s line, I welcome it, but don’t say one thing, do another”, and continue to smear the Kuomintang.
In December last year, the General Administration of Customs of China suspended the import of more than 2,000 Taiwanese products, including Kinmen sorghum produced by Kinmen Distillery. Kinmen elected KMT legislator Chen Yuzhen and Kinmen county magistrate Chen Fuhai went to Xiamen during the Lunar New Year to meet with Kinmen who had just taken office. Song Tao, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China, met with Song Tao. On January 29, Song Tao announced that the General Administration of Customs of China had lifted the ban on the products of the Kinmen Distillery. Chen Yuzhen then also called on the chairman of the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Committee, Qiu Taisan, to discuss the cross-strait three-way connection. Issues such as continuation and increase of civil aviation points.
However, DPP spokesperson Huang Cailing criticized Chen Yuzhen’s behavior as a “communist party” on the grounds that Chen Yuzhen claimed to have given him “a root in Jinmen” when she met Song Tao, implying that “both sides of the strait belong to the same root”.
Chen Yuzhen posted on her Facebook on Thursday, saying that “the sufferings of the people’s livelihood that the DPP considers ‘unspeakable'” has become the work of the opposition party. She went to Xiamen to meet with Song Tao and successfully prompted the mainland customs to reopen the Jinmen distillery. Liquor imports, along with 62 other Taiwanese companies that were blocked due to poor registration, were also allowed to import at the same time, but some DPP legislators were jealous of the opposition party’s successful negotiations with mainland China due to “sour grapes mentality”.
Beijing’s Political Calculations
Regarding China’s willingness to resume the operation of cross-strait air routes at a time when cross-strait relations are sluggish, some scholars believe that this is an action with political implications. It can not only test the attitude of the new cabinet of the DPP, but also influence Taiwan’s 2024 by its market interests. year’s presidential election.
Guo Zhewei, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at George Washington University, said in an interview with Voice of America that China proposed to resume direct flights between cities across the Taiwan Strait at this moment because compared with other commodity trade mechanisms and other trade agreements, the resumption of direct flights between 16 cities It has the most direct impact on Taiwanese businessmen, “and this is also a relatively simple starting point for the restoration of cross-strait exchanges.”
He said that if you add the news about China’s lifting of the ban on Jinmen distillery products a few days ago, “I think it can be interpreted as the Chinese government’s use of this to test the attitude of the DPP government and the new cabinet to communicate with the Chinese market in the post-epidemic era. It is also indirectly testing Taiwanese people’s views on opening up the Chinese market.”
Guo Zhewei further explained what he meant by “indirectly testing” Taiwanese people’s views on opening up the Chinese market.
“What the CCP authorities want to know is, if they show goodwill towards Taiwan from now on (in the post-pandemic era), is there any way for the more pro-China KMT to win the 2024 election? If so, can they do it again Use the vast Chinese market as an incentive to replicate Ma Ying-jeou’s successful re-election model in 2012.”
Probing into the normalization of cross-strait relations
Wang Weizheng, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Adelphi University, also said in an interview with Voice of America that to some extent this is a kind of goodwill expressed by China, but the Taiwan government may be worried that Taiwanese businessmen will bring back the new crown virus, so in the Democratic The Progressive Party government has been hesitant about cross-strait exchanges and concerns about public health. Even if it wants to resume 16 destinations, it may not return to the “prosperity” of so many destinations under the Ma Ying-jeou government in the short term.
“So I think this is a test, a test for the normalization of cross-strait relations.” Wang Weizheng believes that Beijing’s attitude has something to do with the CCP’s “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” towards the West and Taiwan before the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
“Because Xi Jinping’s position has been quite consolidated after the 20th National Congress, he hopes to change the course, and he finds that the previous ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ doesn’t work, so he hopes to change the course and adopt the so-called ‘charm diplomacy’.” As for whether Beijing has Taiwan’s presidential election in mind, Wang Weizheng said, it cannot be said that there is no such thing.
“Because I believe that from Beijing’s point of view, they always hope that the next president elected by Taiwanese voters will basically support cross-strait exchanges, and even tend to not only restore but strengthen cross-strait relations, so I think The proposed restoration of these 16 waypoints is only the first step.”