China’s top leaders adopt measured tone on Taiwan at Two Sessions meetings

4 months ago 81

BEIJING – China’s top leaders have kept the tone on Taiwan measured and succinct at Beijing’s annual parliamentary meetings, despite a recent fatal maritime clash near the Taiwan-ruled Kinmen islands that has increased cross-Strait tensions.

In his work report delivered on March 5, Premier Li Qiang only broadly restated China’s usual position on Taiwan, while Mr Wang Huning – the Communist Party’s fourth-ranked official – kept mention of cross-Strait ties to a minimum in another report a day earlier.

Mr Li said Beijing will “resolutely oppose separatist activities aimed at “Taiwan independence and external interference”, while promoting the “peaceful development of cross-Strait relations” – language that has remained broadly similar to previous years.

The premier was addressing more than 2,800 National People’s Congress (NPC) deputies at the Chinese legislature’s annual meeting in Beijing, a key highlight of the Two Sessions, China’s most important political event of the year.

While it was unusual for “external interference” to feature in the work report, other Chinese leaders have used the term when addressing Taiwan policy in recent years, such as President Xi Jinping at the twice-a-decade 20th Party Congress in October 2022.

Mr Wang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), did not mention “Taiwan” in his CPPCC work report on March 4, except for an upcoming forum to promote cross-Strait development.

Dr Li Nan, visiting senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said the fact that the wording on Taiwan remained largely similar indicates that Beijing’s current Taiwan policy will continue, including with a heavier emphasis on deterrence.

“China may also try to increase Taiwan’s economic integration with China, to raise the costs of independence and to create vested interests in Taiwan, as well wielding economic sticks,” he said.

Beijing has continued to exert pressure on Taiwan since the latter’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party

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