China’s first white paper on Taiwan under Xi does not renounce use of force

Foreign Affairs

The official document, the third of its kind ever released by Beijing, urges Taiwan to adopt the “one country, two systems” principle used in Hong Kong and Macau.

Illustration for SupChina by Derek Zheng

China on Wednesday published its first white paper (in English, Chinese) on Taiwan since General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 rose to power, as tensions in the Taiwan Strait continue to rise in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-ruled island.

“We will work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification,” the white paper jointly released by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the State Council Information Office said. “But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”

The paper also urged Taiwan to adopt the “one country, two systems” policy that has been used in highly controversial “reunification” efforts in Hong Kong and Macau:

It is a fact that since Hong Kong and [Macau] returned to the motherland and were reincorporated into national governance, they have embarked on a broad path of shared development together with the mainland, and each complements the others strengths. The practice of One Country, Two Systems has been a resounding success…

We firmly believe that our compatriots in Taiwan will develop a better understanding of the principle, and that the Two Systems solution to the Taiwan question will play its full role while compatriots on both sides work together toward peaceful reunification.

Beijing has previously issued two white papers on Taiwan: first in August 1993, after the two sides reached the 1992 Consensus, and another one in February 2000. Both stated that China “will not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan” upon achieving “reunification” — that line, once intended to guarantee Taiwan a degree of autonomy, was omitted from the most recent release.

  • In January 2019, Xi announced an open letter to Taiwan proposing a “one country, two systems” formula for eventual unification, a stance that incumbent Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) has rejected.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on the same day that it had completed its exercises around Taiwan but would regularly conduct patrols and drills in the area, a few days after Beijing announced the extension of its largest-ever military exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan, which have been going on since last Thursday.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s main opposition party, Kuomintang (KMT), has sent a delegation to the PRC: The group’s vice-chairman, Andrew Hsia (夏立言 Xià Lìyán), and his compatriots embarked on Wednesday afternoon for a 17-day “fact-finding” trip. Though the trip was planned in June before Pelosi’s visit occurred, some have criticized its poor timing, particularly from Tsai’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

  • Hsia said the trip was aimed at highlighting Taiwanese concerns on the mainland and conveying Taiwanese problems to the local authorities.
  • Though the opposition party has joined the government in condemning China’s military drills, Hsia has evaded questions about whether he would protest against the exercises on his trip. “Our position has been consistent, and I will reiterate it when asked,” he said.

Nadya Yeh