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    What's Behind China's 'Hawkish Rhetoric' Towards Taiwan

    CC BY 2.0 / David Hsieh / Taipei City
    Asia & Pacific
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    Despite tensions between Beijing and Taipei, China is unlikely to use military force in the Taiwan Strait. However, Beijing's rhetoric is an attempt to pressure the Taiwanese government over its push for more independence from mainland China.

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    A retired general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) called for military forces to start practicing for the unification of Taiwan and mainland China.

    The hawkish comment on retaking Taiwan by Wang Hongguang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing military area command, was published on the Global Times newspaper website last Friday.

    Hongguang said that the Chinese navy should step up drills to seal off the Taiwan Strait and find the best routes for its submarines in the strait. He also called on the PLA Air Force to conduct air attack drills.

    "In the event of cross-strait tensions, PLA warplanes could immediately fly into Taiwanese airspace and start their attacks," the retired general said.

    The Nanjing military area command is close to Taiwan. So, on the one hand, Hongguang’s words should be seriously considered. On the other hand, there are no actual military and political preconditions to ramp up preparations to retake Taiwan by force, Andrey Karneyev, a Russian expert and specialist in modern China, told Sputnik China

    Despite a cooling in relations between Beijing and Taipei after the presidential election in Taiwan, the situation in the Taiwan Strait remains calm and stable. Global Times and retired general Wang Hongguang did not translate the official policy of the Chinese government, he noted.

    Moreover, the newspaper has been known for a number of hawkish publications which later were rebuked by authorities.

    Possibly, the recent publication reflects the discontent in Beijing over the comments of Taiwanese President Cai Yingwen, Karneyev suggested.

    Commentators point out that hawkish rhetoric is an official attempt by Beijing to pressure the Taiwanese authorities over a "red line" that should not be crossed.

    As for now, Cai Yingwen is not ready to accept the "1992 Consensus" according to which both mainland China and Taiwan recognizes only one China. Both sides are unlikely to resume official contacts on the issue.

    However, the Taiwanese president has not taken steps to declare Taiwan’s independence because this move is the only thing that would make the Chinese government use military force.

    At the same time, the Kuomintang Party (the Chinese Nationalist Party) is now trying to use the deterioration in relations between Beijing and Taipei to bolster its political positions. If the party succeeds in establishing contacts with mainland China Kuomintang will confirm its reputation as the best negotiator with Beijing, he explained.

    Beijing is ready to establish those contacts. On October 24, the Chinese government announced an upcoming visit to China by a high-profile Kuomintang delegation led by party chief Hong Xiongzhu. The visit is expected to take place in late-October or early-November. Karneyev suggested that during the visit Taiwanese politicians are likely to have a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    "During the talks, Chinese officials will make statements which will define the future of relations between Beijing and Taipei," the expert concluded.

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    tensions, Kuomintang, China, Taiwan
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