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Government Work Report on Taiwan question signals Party still sticks to peaceful reunification

《环球时报·英文版》 2023-03-05

In implementing the overall strategy for resolving the Taiwan question in the new era, it requires to resolutely launch major fights against separatism while promoting the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday.

Although Li's Government Work Report adopted slightly different wording compared with the one released last year, experts said the Party's policy for solving the Taiwan question remains the same, and the signal from government work report offers the island of Taiwan an opportunity to meet the mainland halfway toward a peaceful reunification. However, this signal should not be interpreted as the mainland abandoning other options, said experts.

China has made fresh progress in its work related to Hong Kong and Macao SARs and the Taiwan region over the past five years, Li said when delivering the report on behalf of the State Council at the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress on Sunday morning.

We should implement our Party's overall policy for the new era on resolving the Taiwan question, adhere to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus, and take resolute steps to oppose "Taiwan independence" and promote reunification. We should promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and advance the process of China's peaceful reunification, Li said in the work report.

As we Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits are one family bound by blood, we should advance economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation across the Taiwan Straits and improve the systems and policies that contribute to the well-being of our Taiwan compatriots. We should encourage people on both sides of the Straits to jointly promote Chinese culture and advance China's rejuvenation, Li noted.

Wide applause rang out in the conference hall after Li made the remarks about Taiwan question.

In the government work report delivered in 2022, Li said that "we firmly oppose any separatist activities seeking 'Taiwan independence' and firmly oppose foreign interference."

Experts told the Global Times said that this year's work on solving the Taiwan question will likely still focus on promoting exchanges, and stick to peaceful reunification, as the government work report emphasizes policies that contribute to the well-being of our Taiwan compatriots.

Chen Yunying, a deputy to the 14th NPC from the island of Taiwan, told the Global Times that young people in Taiwan are the indispensable force of peaceful reunification. She submitted a motion this year calling to invite young people from Taiwan to visit the Chinese mainland, and to feel the family ties that are bound by blood.

She also suggested the resumption of more direct flights across the Taiwan Straits, and to encourage more young people from Taiwan to work in the mainland. "There are many young people in Taiwan hoping to chase their dreams in the mainland, and I hope more Taiwan compatriots will realize that the mainland is the closet place to the island, geographically and psychologically," Chen said.

Although opposing foreign interference is not mentioned in this year's government work report, the Party's overall policy toward this question remains unchanged, which is striving to seek peaceful reunification but never calling off the option of unification by force if Taiwan authorities and external forces cross the red lines,Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Xin predicted the work on the Taiwan question will be more complicated as the island's regional leadership elections will take place in2024, and external forces, especially the US, have upped the ante of egging on separatists to sabotage the cross-Straits relations.

The US recently has escalated hype about a military conflict scenario in the Taiwan Straits, hinting at a commitment to "defend the island," but such moves are scolded by observers as being no more than fooling the island to follow the US' anti-China strategy and using Taiwan as a pawn.

"The Chinese mainland has kept extending olive branches to the Taiwan authorities. They [the Taiwan authorities] should accept such goodwill and seize the opportunity of resuming cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation based on one-China principle and 1992 consensus in order to deescalate the rising tension," Xin noted.