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Chinese scholars pessimistic about Lai's inaugural address

05/20/2024 11:29 PM
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President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 20, 2024
President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 20, 2024

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Chinese scholars were pessimistic about President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) stance and approach to relations between the two sides across the Taiwan Strait outlined in his inaugural address on Monday.

In Lai's speech, he mentioned that according to the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan's official name), the sovereignty of the ROC resides with its citizens, and anyone possessing ROC nationality is an ROC citizen.

"These two articles tell us clearly: The ROC and the People's Republic of China are not subordinate to each other," Lai stated.

The purpose of Lai's remarks on nationality was to express the idea that "mainland China has no jurisdiction over Taiwan," said Bao Chengke (包承柯), an assistant director at the Institute for East Asian Studies in Shanghai.

"It's an intentional effort to create opposition in cross-strait affairs and to advocate for Taiwan independence from a legal perspective," Bao said.

He added that Lai's assertion about nationality will escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait as it contradicts China's emphasis that "Taiwan is part of China as historical fact."

However, Bao contended that future exchanges between the two sides will continue and not undergo any fundamental change due to Lai's inauguration.

When asked the reason for this prediction, Bao told CNA that the Chinese authorities operate under "the logic of both sides belonging to one family," and therefore they will promote cross-strait exchanges among civilians while simultaneously strengthening policies to suppress Taiwan independence.

Meanwhile, Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷), former director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Lai's inaugural address is a "testimony on Taiwan independence" that not only challenges the Chinese authorities, but is also provocative.

He questioned how Lai could implement the blueprint outlined in his speech amid the absence of peaceful cross-strait conditions.

Zhou asserted that it is a more pro-Taiwan independence speech than any ever delivered by Taiwan's former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).

Whether China will strengthen its "unilateral resolution mechanism for the Taiwan issue" needs to be observed, Zhou stated, stressing that China has no reason to be optimistic.

Regarding Lai's proposal on resuming the enrollment of Chinese degree students at Taiwanese institutions, Zhou said that in an environment filled with hostility and unfriendliness -- referring to Taiwan -- it is questionable whether Chinese parents would want to send their children to study in Taiwan.

"I think it's impossible," he said.

(By Lu Chia-jung, Chang Shu-ling and Sunny Lai)

Enditem/AW

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