Beijing is mapping out specific tactics to lure Taiwan into its orbit and possibly pave the way for forcible seizure of the self-ruled island, although there is no timetable for such a drastic move, according to a senior mainland Taiwan affairs adviser.
Li Yihu, dean of Peking University’s Taiwan Studies Institute, said Beijing was reinforcing its “carrot and stick” approach to dealing with Taiwan’s independence forces after passing historic constitutional amendments on Sunday to remove presidential term limits on the mainland.
Beijing has been using economic sweeteners or “carrots” such as offers of better paying jobs, access to bigger markets and equal treatment to lure Taiwanese to the mainland.
Analysts have cautioned that if the sweeteners fail to work, the mainland could bring down its “stick” – moving to forcibly seize the wayward island.
Li said that although he doubted that Xi had set a timetable for a Taiwan takeover, the Taiwan issue would remain prominent on the leader’s agenda.
“Cross-strait unification is more urgent when the mainland’s economic power is rising,” Li said. Beijing’s involvement in the Taiwan issue has strengthened in tandem with the mainland’s growth.
Resolving the “Taiwan problem” is seen as a major step in achieving Xi’s goal of “national rejuvenation”.
Li said that as a result the mainland was turning Xi’s Taiwan-related strategies into detailed tactics in various areas – including the economy, politics, the military, culture, society and even the judicial sector – with some already being implemented.
The moves come on the heels of the Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office’s February announcement of 31 policies smoothing the way for greater Taiwan-mainland integration, including 12 measures related to business and 19 to social and employment issues.
Unlike the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between Beijing and Taipei in 2010 that lowered tariffs for Taiwanese businesses, the new measures were intended to put Taiwanese companies and residents on an equal footing with their mainland-based counterparts.