Hu Jintao made a long speech today (Monday) – about two and a half hours – dealing with many topics. “Democracy” was mentioned many times, though I think Hu still doesn’t understand what it really means – if he does, he doesn’t like it as the CCP’s insistence on retaining control through thick and thin is hardly democratic.
In any case, one matter picked up on was a call for a “peace agreement” with Taiwan.
“On the basis of the one-China principle, let us discuss a formal end to the state of hostility between the two sides, reach a peace agreement, construct a framework for peaceful development of cross-strait relations and thus usher in a new phase of peaceful development.”
On the basis of the one-China principle. I.e. Taiwan should agree to unify without receiving any promises first. Stop me if I’m wrong, but why should the island give up its sovereignty for talks to merely happen? You may say Taiwan could back out of the 1CP if talks failed, but it would damage its credibility if Taiwanese independence was seen to be a flight of fancy rather than something it really believed in.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday offered talks on a formal peace accord with Taiwan, but Taiwan rejected the call, saying it is an independent country whose future must be decided by the Taiwan people. “We cannot discuss peaceful reunification with a regime that suppresses Tibet, shoots its own people and backs Myanmar’s military government,” Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey told reporters.
“Taiwan’s founding principles are human rights and democracy. If Hu Jintao really places hope on the Taiwan people, as he said, he should listen to the Taiwan people’s voice. Although the Chinese Communist Party rules China, it does not represent the Chinese people,” Shieh said.
The thing is that what Hu said today is nothing new. China has proposed talks for years if the 1CP was followed by Taiwan’s government. Each time the response from Taipei has been “we would love talks – let’s drop the conditions”. And each time Beijing has insisted it can set whatever red lines it likes, whereas Taiwan can set none.
This is not unlike Hu’s entire approach to government. He sets the agenda. He says what goes and when. Everyone else has to accept any scraps thrown to them from the table. If they ask for a chair to sit at the table, a better cut of meat, a plate or whatever, no scraps will be given and they may get a beating into the bargain for daring to talk back. This rather mean approach to government cannot be veiled with an absence of overt threats towards a place like Taiwan, though I’m sure some naive/self-serving commentators will call it significant he didn’t threaten to invade the island for wanting to be independent from an oppressive autocracy like China.
Hu does he think he is fooling?
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.