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Internal issues taking precedence in Taiwan, China: NCAFP

2018/01/10 15:43:30

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, right) greets the NCAFP delegation in this photo from Dec. 2017

Washington, Jan. 9 (CNA) Cross-strait issues appear to be taking a back seat to domestic issues in both Taiwan and China, according to a report from U.S. nonprofit organization the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP), though Beijing's soft and hard approaches toward Taiwan are becoming more extreme.

The NCAFP published a full report on its Dec. 6-16 trip to Taipei, Beijing and Seoul on Tuesday, which summed up Taiwan's reaction to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and U.S. President Donald Trump's subsequent visit with one word "relief."

According to the committee, many in Taiwan felt things could have been much worse, but in the end, nothing happened that impacted the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

As the report says, "domestic issues (in Taiwan) like labor and pension reform were foremost on people's minds, not security or cross-strait concerns," while Chinese President "Xi Jinping, at present, appeared internally focused."

However, the NCAFP is quick to point out that just because there is a "lack of sense of urgency in dealing with the cross-strait issue" that does not mean Taiwan is no longer an urgent priority for Beijing.

Indeed, Taiwan is very much a priority issue for China, as evidenced by the more extreme soft-hard approach its government is taking.

The committee noted that "if the soft part of Beijing's 'soft-hard' approach toward Taiwan was getting softer, the hard part also appeared to be getting harder."

The soft approach includes job opportunities in China as well as "all-expenses-paid summer camp opportunities for local young elites," while the hard approach consisted of increasing People's Liberation Army Navy and Air Force activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and targeting Taiwan's diplomatic allies such as Palau and Honduras.

The NCAFP zeroed in on Xi's mention of the possibility of "communications with parties on the island" during his address at the 19th Party Congress, saying that some in China have suggested the DPP not remove but "freeze" the independence clause from its party charter in order to increase the chance of party-to-party dialogue.

In conclusion, the committee noted that while there is no official communication across the Taiwan Strait, "some low-level contacts appear to be ongoing and these should be encouraged and supported."

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Leaf Jiang)
Enditem/AW