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How to Understand the Messages Recently Delivered by the Cai Government Officials?
 Source:Centre for Strategic Thinking  Views:745 Updated:2021-10-20

For commemorating the founding of the Republic of China (RoC) 110 years ago, the Taiwan local leader, on 10 October, delivered a special remark. One day before this celebration made by the Cai government, the Chinese central government also organized an activity in Beijing to mark the 110 years anniversary of the Chinese Xinhai Revolution.

Some analysts took Cai’s speech as another attempt made by the Cai government and the DPP to seek Taiwan independence. Cai in her speech expressed her expectation of Taiwan’s status by 2040, which was sensed by many as the deadline for the DPP to finally get Taiwan out of China. Apart from Cai’s message, other officials serving in the Cai government have also attempted to play high of their voices concerning the Cross-strait relations more recently. Then how to understand the voices raised by some Taiwan officials? And what do they expect to receive by delivering their messages?

More broadly on the local level, Cai’s speech plus some remarks recently made by some Taiwan officials aimed to rally more support and to create a new round of momentum for enhancing the DPP’s position and further for making the DPP to continue to direct Taiwan politics. In addition to that, on the regional and international levels, the Taiwan officials’ remarks mainly bore a purpose of attracting more attention of the media, and of the international community. The Cai government officials wanted their voices to be delivered in a wider spectrum. These kinds of attempts also reflected that the internal political situation in Taiwan and the external environment have made some Cai government officials sense the urgency to hype up their voices.

Taiwan is not a country, and it is part of One China. This fact is a wide consensus of the international community. Among a total of around 197 countries across the world, only 15 of them still keep formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Nevertheless, the DPP has made numerous attempts to make Taiwan more visible and act more like a sovereign state. Cai in her speech encouraged the Taiwan public to catch the opportunities in the changing era, given the backdrop that the Cross-strait relations, major power competition, as well as the implementation of the U.S.-led Indo-pacific strategy will likely draw more regional and international attention. Thus, the Cai government believes that Taiwan should have a bigger role to play in the Indo-pacific region in the coming years.

After all, rallying support and making voice campaigns mainly serve as a means. The real objective of carrying out these series of actions, from a short term perspective, as the Cai government expected, is to help raise Taiwan’s profile, expand Taiwan’s acting space, create a sound environment for the DPP to sustain its influence in Taiwan politics, and continue to influence the Taiwan public opinion. Meanwhile, in the longer term, the DPP and the Cai government anticipate that the outcomes of the policies and actions taken could help pave the way for the DPP to feel more confident in seeking Taiwan independence.

Then, in order to achieve the above purposes, to whom in more details do the Cai government officials want their messages to be delivered? What implications do they expect to secure? And what would be the possible consequences of the series of Taiwan independence attempts? The following part will try to analyze these issues.

Messages and Expectations

First, through Cai’s speech and the remarks made by the Cai government officials, they intended to create an fake image that the DPP is still strong and capable in leading, and in the meantime, through the DPP controlled media, to maximize this fake image in order to affect public opinion.

Second, the DPP’s voice campaigns also target the KMT. The KMT recently has just elected a new leader. The KMT party leadership election has created a fresh momentum for the party to gather more strength and further to build more confidence.

Part of the reasons that the KMT party leadership election had drawn a lot of attention was that, among the four candidates (Zhu, Zhang, Jiang, and Zhuo) having participated in the leadership contest, Zhang’s powerful and clear messages had amazed quite a number of people and helped him score a good record within a relatively short period of time. His messages in seeking Taiwan-Mainland unification as well as his problem-solving approach can be a big challenge to the political ideas and stance held by the DPP. These messages suddenly woke up the passion of the Taiwan public widely. Thus, even though Zhang lost within the KMT party leadership contest, his ideas and approach have so far created an even bigger threat to Cai’s leadership as well as to the DPP’s ruling from the Cai government perspective.

In contrast in the meantime, the mishandling of a series of issues by the Cai government since the beginning of this year including the American lean pork, the COVID-19 vaccines, the death of the Taiwan people resulted by vaccination, and the deteriorating Cross-strait relations etc. have roused strong public discontent about the Cai government ruling. Since 22 March when Taiwan people started to receive vaccination subsequently, till 7 October, the number of deaths resulted by vaccination had reached 852. This figure, on the same day and also for the first time, had surpassed the total number of deaths 844 caused by contracting the virus itself.1

Under such circumstance, the fresh momentum generated by the KMT party leadership election against the backdrop of the Cai government mismanagement of a number of issues made the Cai government feel more fearful of losing its supporting rate. Therefore, in order to counter the growing influence of the KMT, and to prevent the KMT from getting stronger and becoming more popular, the DPP and the Cai government will try every way to enhance their position.

Third, the voices raised by the Cai government officials can be seen as a message to the international community. Through playing a victim’s card, the Taiwan authority is hopeful of gaining more regional and international support, and meanwhile, to create an impression that the deteriorating Cross-strait relations is mainly an consequence of the mainland aggressive political and economic pressure; while at the same time, the Cai government deliberately keeps dismissing a basic fact that the actions taken by the mainland are just responses to the moves of the DPP in seeking Taiwan independence.

The Taiwan authority called for cooling down the Cross-strait tensions and was hopeful of having a dialogue with the Chinese authority. Nevertheless, in the mean time, without in the first place recognizing the 1992 Consensus which serves as the political foundation of the Cross-strait dialogue, the Cai government set an unrealistic precondition that, the talk with the Chinese authority has to be based on an equal status.

In line with the usual practice of international relations, only the leaders between two sovereign states can hold talks based on an equal footing. Apparently, the Taiwan authority intentionally set Taiwan as a state rather than as part of One China in this case.

Given the above circumstances, many observers argued that it was hardly to believe that the Cai government calling for conversation with the Chinese authority was sincere. That could be part of the tactics of the Cai government in order to avoid direct conflict with the mainland in the near term.

Fourth, the messages of the Cai government also intended to be delivered to the United States. One of the Taiwan officials recently declared that they would fight with the mainland till the end without surrender. Many DPP members still believe that as far as they wouldn’t give up fighting, there should be a bigger hope for the U.S. to aid Taiwan in dealing with the challenges from the mainland.

Fifth, the voices of the Cai government officials also targeted the Chinese authority. So far the Chinese central government hasn’t insinuated a deadline for finally solving the Taiwan issue. Nothing also means everything, and that everything is possible. Therefore, raising voices, rallying support, and hyping up the tensions could be part of the Cai government strategy to test the central government strategic patience, and to see what levels of moves taken by the Cai government can be tolerated by the Chinese authority.

Overall, Cai’s message plus the Cai government officials’ attempts in rallying support roughly carried the above purposes. The general goal was to make Taiwan act more like a normal state through taking incremental steps and by taking advantage of the changing regional and international situations including the increasing attention of the major powers to the Cross-strait relations, and the forging of the Indo-pacific strategy, as well as the growing competition of the major powers in this region.

Nevertheless, from the strategic perspective, playing the above game is very dangerous for Taiwan.

Games and Consequences

The development of the China-U.S. relations as well as the implementation of the Indo-pacific strategy wouldn’t expect to fundamentally benefit Taiwan. If China and the U.S. manage to co-exist in the coming years, the outcome of the peaceful co-existence between the two powers, from an optimistic perspective, would neither be a good nor a bad issue for Taiwan; yet from a pessimistic sense, that shouldn’t be a good news for the Taiwan independence forces. If a real conflict between the two great powers, because of the Taiwan issue, takes place, the Taiwan island will suffer the most in the first place, and that situation would be more disastrous for Taiwan. Therefore, the DPP’s anticipation to take advantage of the major power competition in the Indo-pacific region doesn’t seem to bring any good meaning to Taiwan. Taking advantage by stirring trouble is not a good strategy.

In parallel with the Cai government attempt to deploy the external situation to alter Taiwan’s status, internally the DPP and the Cai authority have been making efforts to play another ulterior and dangerous game as well, which has been to hijack the Republic of China and the Taiwan people to serve their Taiwan independence purpose.

Back on the date of 10 October in 1911, a revolution led by the founding father of the KMT started to take place in the Chinese mainland city Wuchang. The victory of the revolution resulted in the dismantling of the superior Chinese emperor-led feudal system which had dominated the Chinese society for more than 2000 years before then. It also led to the founding of Republic of China.

In the later decades, whatever had happened within China - even the Chinese civil war - didn’t shake the general consensus among the major political parties as well as between the political parties and the Chinese people that China cannot be divided, and that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to the same One China.

Cai’s speech on 10 October 2021 for celebrating the 110 years anniversary of the founding of the RoC demonstrated that the DPP and the Cai government recognized the ever historical, legal, and constitutional ground of the RoC.

However, in the meantime, the DPP since its founding in 1986 has been constantly seeking Taiwan independence. Even though the RoC doesn’t equal to the Taiwan island; the conceptual and constitutional framework of the RoC confronts Taiwan independence. Nevertheless, the Cai government and the DPP tend to put the two confrontational matters together and unilaterally make them reasonable at the same time, because without the recognition of the RoC, the DPP and the Cai government would lose their legal and constitutional ground for ruling, and also without the recognition of the RoC, the DPP would lose the support of the Taiwan public. Therefore, the Republic of China has only been taken as a superficial concept abducted by the DPP to serve its ambition in pursuing Taiwan independence.

History has told that an undertaking, big or small, must have to carry a just course, without a just course, that undertaking would be doomed to fail with the prevailing of justice. What had happened in history can be a good warning to the Taiwan independence attempt.



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