Ghost of Greater China?
It was a brief encounter – a restrained dinner and an hour of discussions followed by it. After the meeting the official representative of Beijing claimed that still stick to the "one China" policy. This policy officially asserts that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. Nevertheless, the Chinese leaders emphasize that China is not going to interfere in the political processes in Taiwan where, by the way, elections are coming. The leading candidate from the opposition party declares against rapprochement. Also despite the fact that nobody expected from the meeting of Chinese and Taiwanese leaders fateful decisions, hundreds of protesters attacked a government building in Taiwan's capital Taipei. The protesters accuse Ma Ying-jeou in undermining of sovereignty of the island.
Taiwan’s present position is peculiar and designing. It is an island in East Asia between the East China Sea to the north, the Philippine Sea to the east, the Luzon Strait directly to the south and the South China Sea to the southwest. Thousands of years China was ruled by the emperors. But in 1912 the Republic of China was established and the Kuomintang (the KMT or Nationalist Party) became the most powerful political force in the country. In 1921 the Communist party of China was organized on the basis of Leninism and world revolution. At the initial stage between the Kuomintang and the Communist party was a united front against the threat posed by Japan. During the war, the Communist party essentially expanded its political influence in China. After Japan surrendered in 1945 being of China was soon shadowed by the civil war between CPC and KMT. By 1946-47, the balance of power between the Communist party and the Kuomintang was disturbed. The Kuomintang was defeated and it evacuated from the mainland to Taiwan in 1949. In that way Two Chinas as the two governments were formed: the first on the island of Taiwan – the Kuomintang and its supporters, the second on the mainland at the head of the Communist party.
Official relations between the China and Taiwan ended in 1949. Business and informal contacts between them resumed in the late 1980s. Since the beginning of the 1990s, parties began to communicate through non-governmental organizations – The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and The Straits Exchange Foundation.
Relations between Taipei and Beijing began to improve gradually in 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou, loyal to convergence with China, came to power in Taiwan. He is criticized by the opposition, gravitating towards greater independence of Taiwan. Several important economic agreements in the field of tourism and business were signed at Ma Ying-jeou, though considerable political progress wasn’t made.
So in the meeting held on 7 November both China and Taiwan stressed the historic importance of the situation. The two sides attempted to affirm their own legacy of developing the cross-strait relations, oriented to the opportunity of an ad-hoc rapprochement of domestic political interests.
“No force can pull us apart because we are brothers who are still connected by our flesh even if our bones are broken, we are a family in which blood is thicker than water,” Xi Jinping said.
“Both sides should respect each other’s values and way of life to ensure mutual benefit and a win-win situation across the straits,” Ma Ying-jeou added.
For China, the issue of Taiwan remains an extremely important because China regards the status of Taiwan as an internal affair in which no foreign states have the right to interfere. China under the conditions of weakening of economic growth and structural reforms is not interested in deterioration of relations with Taiwan. As the existence of Taiwan without extensive business ties to the mainland is impossible. Mutual annual trade between Taiwan and China more than 198 billion for year. China is the main economic partner of Taiwan.
One of the key initiatives associated with the continuing commitment to the "1992 consensus". The “1992 consensus,” reached between mid-level officials from Taiwan and China in a meeting that year in Hong Kong. It refers to the principle of "one China but different interpretations of the term". In addition, XI Jinping invited Taiwan to participate in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) – an international financial institution which is focused on supporting infrastructure construction in the Asia-Pacific region. Except China the top of shareholders also includes India, Russia, Germany and South Korea.
However, the first meeting of the Ma Ying-jeou with Xi Jinping was the last one. In January presidential and parliamentary elections will be held, where Ma Ying-jeou can’t participate. If the Democratic Progressive Party comes in power at the next election it will advocate a close alliance with the US and Japan. A possible aggravation of situation between Beijing and Taipei, at least, will lead to complications of Sino-American relations. When China was under siege by the West and primarily the United States, Taiwan has become not only an important ally of the Americans, but more than twenty years was imposed to the world as the real China – the government of Taiwan represented China in the UN. Only in the early 70's Washington decided to get closer to Beijing and established diplomatic relations with it, refusing to recognize Taiwan. Anyway by the time Taiwan was a developed state with a powerful army and American support. Today naturally the US is not interested in reunification of China – its main competitor in the Pacific region.
It is also not clear how Taiwanese regard towards the idea of convergence. The citizens of island were influenced by the idea of independence from Western civilization. And many of them want to see Taiwan fully and legally independent from China.
At the same time the economic integration of China and Taiwan has already gone far, it is unlikely that a policy of gradual rapprochement can be completely reversed. Moreover peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is extremely important for the development of the Asia-Pacific region. Other countries in the region are aware of the benefits of the peaceful rapprochement of the two sides, because if Taiwan takes the path of confrontation it will bring the threat of destabilization of the entire region.