Beijing claimed on Thursday that political parties and other groups in Taiwan had “actively explored” its proposals for the “one country, two systems” model of semi-autonomous government on the island.
Liu Jieyi, director of Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, wrote in an article published by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily that “relevant political parties, groups, and sector representatives” in Taiwan had spoken to individuals from mainland China over the past year on how to realise “peaceful reunification”.
“The island’s political parties and groups actively explored one country, two systems for Taiwan,” Liu wrote.
“Taiwan counterparts have a clearer understanding of what would be respected and safeguarded after peaceful reunification. Their rejection and resistance of the discrediting and slandering of one country, two systems by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces has also continued to increase,” the article said.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and has not rejected the use of force to bring the island under its rule. The Communist Party has never governed Taiwan, which considers itself an independent country.
The reiteration of Beijing’s intentions to realise the one country, two systems political model in Taiwan came ahead of Taiwan’s January 11 presidential and legislative elections, where issues of national sovereignty and security loomed large.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has been vocal in her rejection of one country, two systems, while Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu, presidential candidate of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), opposed both one country, two systems and “Taiwan independence”.
Observers said Beijing’s efforts to sell its concept in Taiwan were frustrated by anti-government and pro-democracy protests that began in June in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city under the model.
In October, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which manages relations with Beijing, found a record high number of people on the island opposed Beijing’s model. It said 89.3 per cent of those polled were against it, up from 75.4 per cent in a January survey.
In his article, Liu singled out the DPP for “distorting one country, two systems” and “increasing cross-strait confrontation, to obstruct and damage cross-strait exchange and cooperation to go against the trend of the times, [a policy] which has become increasingly unpopular on the island”.
Under Tsai’s administration, relations between Beijing and Taipei have become strained, while the mainland has increased its efforts to put pressure on Taiwan by methods such as courting its few diplomatic allies to switch their allegiance away from Taipei.
The latest major polls for the election showed Tsai with a strong lead over Han, who has been accused by opponents of being Beijing’s preferred candidate. The DPP’s lead over the KMT in the legislative race was much tighter. Heavy-hitters in the KMT, including Taiwan’s former president Ma Ying-jeou and former New Taipei mayor Eric Chu Li-luan, have been campaigning hard for its candidates in recent weeks.
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