‘Four commitments’ in Double Ten speech . . .
On Sunday, President Tsai Ing-wen addressed a rally in front of the presidential office in Taipei held to mark the Republic of China’s National Day, also known as ‘Double Ten’ day. This day marks the uprising that toppled the last Qing emperor and led to the founding of the Republic of China in 1911. Tsai’s speechcame amid heightened cross-strait tensions after a record number of Chinese planes entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone last week. In it she laid out four commitments: to Taiwanese democracy, to cross-strait relations based on parity, against annexation or encroachment upon sovereignty, and that the future of Taiwan must be decided per the will of the Taiwanese people. While Beijing denounced the address for inciting independence and confrontation, Tsai reiterated calls for maintaining the status quo.
Mounting pressure on two sides . . .
In China, the anniversary of the 1911 Revolution was marked by a commemorative meeting where Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized Taiwan’s unification with the mainland as an essential part of national rejuvenation. Although Xi’s rhetoric was less harsh compared to past speeches pledging to take Taiwan by force, Washington said it is “deeply concerned” about recent Chinese actions in the Taiwan Strait. Reports emerged last week that U.S. troops and marines had been deployed in Taiwan to train Taiwanese forces for at least a year. President Biden’s comments last Tuesday on abiding by the “Taiwan Agreement” caused confusion among politicians and pundits on all sides. Washington later clarified that the U.S. maintains its official ‘One China Policy’ and its commitment to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself if needed under the Taiwan Relations Act.
Taiwanese remain unworried . . .
Although debates over the likelihood of an invasion of Taiwan have become more frequent internationally, Chinese military threats do not usually dominate local headlines in Taiwan. Recent polls showed that most people are not worried that Beijing will attack anytime soon. Surveys from National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center continue to show strong support for maintaining the status quo. A majority of respondents identified as Taiwanese only, as opposed to Taiwanese and Chinese or Chinese only. Some experts see the recent warplane dispatches as a form of psychological warfare to induce fear and despair among Taiwanese people. While it remains to be seen if recent developments sway public opinion, it is clear that war and unification are not on Taiwanese minds.
- Al-Jazeera: Do the US and China have a ‘Taiwan agreement’?
- Focus Taiwan: Tsai pledges to defend Taiwan amid China threat in National Day speech
- South China Morning Post: Chinese President Xi Jinping says peaceful reunification with Taiwan is in country’s best interests