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China is sailing into a sea of troubles

  • Author:naky
  • Source:www.diecastingpartsupplier.com
  • Release on:2015-11-11
Nothing can separate us. We are one family”. So said Xi Jinping after becoming the first president of China to shake hands with a president of Taiwan. The meeting between Mr Xi and Ma Ying-jeou was undoubtedly historic. And yet Mr Xi’s talk of “family” reminded me of the way that a Hollywood mafia don might use the term — in a manner that mixes charm with menace. The fact is that Beijing still insists that Taiwan is a rebel province and reserves the right to attack its family member should Taiwan ever declare independence.

The ambiguities do not end there. On one level, Mr Xi’s decision to break with decades of ostracism was the act of a confident leader. Yet the Chinese president’s boldness probably reflects anxiety as much as confidence. For when he looks out at China’s near abroad he confronts a sea of troubles.

The politics of Taiwan are moving against China. Beijing is also under increased pressure from the US over its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea. Mr Xi has troubles on dry land, too. America and 11 other nations have just agreed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that excludes China, challenging its central position in the economy of the Asia-Pacific. Meanwhile, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014 have left a legacy of bitterness with the mainland, raising the prospect that Beijing’s “One China” policy could be challenged in Hong Kong and Taiwan simultaneously.

During the most recent Taiwan Strait crisis, from 1995 to 1996, the US sent an aircraft carrier to the region, in response to China’s military intimidation of the Taiwanese. Since then, Beijing has adopted much subtler tactics, relying on burgeoning economic and travel ties to draw the “rebel province” gradually back into its orbit. The election of a pro-independence president in Taiwan would suggest these tactics had failed.
In all this jostling for influence, China’s strongest card remains the power of its economy. Almost all the nations of Southeast Asia do considerably more trade with China than with the US. But that makes the TPP potentially threatening to China.

the pact, the US and Japan, are more sceptical. Some of the provisions of the TPP, such as commitments on labour and environmental law, and on cyber space, might have been designed to make it hard for China to join.
Issues such as the South China Sea and the TPP — however difficult for Beijing — are, at least, largely about government policy. The questions of Hong Kong and Taiwan are more unpredict-able, and therefore dangerous, because they involve something Beijing cannot control: public opinion.

These are fiercely difficult problems for Mr Xi. But they are also problems of Beijing’s own making. By insisting with such ferocity on stale political formulas, such as “rebel province” and “one country, two systems”, the Chinese government has boxed itself into a corner.
Meeting the president of Taiwan is a powerful symbol of flexibility. But if Mr Xi really wants to calm his sea of troubles, he needs to change the substance of Beijing’s approach to Taiwan and Hong Kong.