Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Lai Ching-te's remarks endanger peace in the region

Zhou Wenxing , Wang Sihan

New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te, April 12, 2023. /CFP
New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te, April 12, 2023. /CFP

New leader of China's Taiwan region Lai Ching-te, April 12, 2023. /CFP

Editor's note: Zhou Wenxing, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is assistant professor at the School of International Studies, Nanjing University. He writes extensively on comparative politics and international relations, with an emphasis on the Taiwan question and China-U.S. relations. Wang Sihan is a research assistant at Nanjing University. The article reflects the authors' opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Lai Ching-te, the new leader of China's Taiwan region, delivered his "inaugural speech" on May 20. His provocative remarks distort the facts and his poorly considered separatist policy visions may steer the region in a misguided and perilous direction.

First, Lai falsely and illegally espoused a "pro-independence" stance. In the inauguration speech, Lai mentioned "Taiwan" 87 times, "country" more than 40 times, and "China" seven times, yet he never referred to "the Chinese mainland." This clearly indicates his intention to separate the region from the mainland.

Lai's attempts to advocate for so-called "Taiwan independence" were clearly revealed through his argument that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland "are not subordinate to each other." He even went as far as to claim that Taiwan is a "country." These assertions disregard historical facts and the reality of international relations that both sides across the Taiwan Straits belong to the same Chinese nation, thereby challenging the internationally recognized one-China principle. It is no surprise that Lai faced harsh criticism from numerous individuals and political parties in Taiwan.

Besides, Lai exaggerated the role of Taiwan and called for extensive collaboration with external forces to pursue "independence." Referring to the region as "a global beacon" of democracy, he asserted its connection to the world through peace and prosperity. He also underscored Taiwan's contributions to advanced semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence, and other fields.

By selling the "global role" of Taiwan in terms of democracy, economy and technology, Lai sought increased support from external forces to "counter the threat" posed by the Chinese mainland, or, in his own words, to "maintain regional peace and stability." He expressed his gratitude to the United States for enacting the "Indo-Pacific Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2024," which provides $1.9 billion in military aid to the Taiwan region.

After presenting a series of provocative arguments and policy proposals, more critically, Lai Ching-te unreasonably praised the policies pursued by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities under the leadership of his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, all the while attributing the current dilemma in the Taiwan Straits solely to the Chinese mainland.

The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, July 21, 2019. /Xinhua
The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, July 21, 2019. /Xinhua

The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, July 21, 2019. /Xinhua

On one hand, Lai portrayed Taiwan as a "pilot for global peace," claiming that the new DPP authorities under his guidance would "neither yield nor provoke, and maintain the status quo" with the aim of pursuing the "independence" agenda left by Tsai. But the issue is that Tsai's policies were proved erroneous as her eight-year leadership witnessed no peace in the Taiwan Straits. It is anticipated that the Lai leadership will perpetuate a similar status quo, characterized by the lack of peace again.

However, Lai falsely blamed the Chinese mainland for the deteriorating cross-Strait ties. In the speech, he urged the mainland to "share with Taiwan the global responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits as well as the broader region" and to "guarantee a world without the specter of war." He believes that the mainland should bear the consequences of escalating tensions across the Strait in the past few years.

Obviously, Lai's false accusation against the Chinese mainland of escalating tensions across the Taiwan Straits overlooks the true fact behind the tense situation. The primary cause stems from the DPP authorities' refusal to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, which underscores the principle that "both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one China and will work together toward national reunification." The Consensus serves as a prerequisite for initiating political dialogue between both sides.

To make things worse, the DPP authorities have been relentlessly seeking so-called independence by bolstering Taiwan's defense capabilities and forging deeper ties with external forces. However, the Tsai authorities fell short of achieving this objective. If Lai pursues similar misguided policies, he too would likely meet the same fate. Lai's remarks pose a significant threat to peace in the Taiwan Straits. If he genuinely seeks peace and prosperity, as he asserted, the DPP authorities must reconsider their cross-Strait policies, which currently lack the foundation of peaceful principles. The failure to do so could lead to heightened tensions across the Strait over the next four years.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on X, formerly Twitter, to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends