Increased military interactions with the US, including ramped-up American naval sail-throughs and flyovers of the contested Taiwan Strait, appear to have hastened Beijing’s timeline for Taiwan “reunification”.
A top Chinese lawmaker and adviser, National People’s Congress deputy Li Yihu, announced this week, “The [Communist] Party’s overall strategy for resolving the Taiwan issue in the new era has basically taken shape, and the strategic goals and focus of the future reunification cause have also become very clear.”
He specified the process will be sped up, saying ahead of the annual National People’s Congress meeting which kicks off March 5 that “The mainland will promote national reunification on a fast development track.”
Notably this also comes after then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ultra-provocative visit to the self-ruled island in August, and further after multiple weapons packages have been announced by the Biden administration. Current Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is also said to be planning a Taiwan visit in the near future.
Li Yihu specifically cited an “extraordinary” year for tensions in the region, as well as heightening global events and rivalries:
A series of new policies, including on Taiwan, are expected to be unveiled during the gathering, along with the defense budget and a government reshuffle. Comments made by NPC deputies such as Li can provide some insight into Beijing’s policymaking, which remains largely secretive.
In the interview, Li – who is also dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Peking University – said 2022 was an “extraordinary” year for cross-strait ties and that its major events would “have a certain impact on the future direction” of the relationship.
Without doubt he also had in mind the Russia-Ukraine war, and the comparisons which some US officials as well has pundits have increasingly made between the Ukraine and Taiwan situations.
Beijing has consistently rejected such comparisons, stressing that Taiwan is under Chinese sovereignty, also finding the idea that the situations are parallel to be an offensive.
It may have "become very clear” to Li Yihu what the plan is, but this scmp article doesn't provide any information at all about what it might be https://t.co/gbAMv5m5CF
— Joel Atkinson 舟綽 (@Joel_P_Atkinson) March 1, 2023
President Xi Jinping and his officials have long emphasized a Chinese plan of peaceful unification via political processes, also as the mainland has deep involvement with opposition movements and parties in Taipei. But it’s unclear whether Washington’s pushing past “red lines” have changed the calculus. Certainly we are witnessing the beginnings of a more assertive and aggressive Chinese posture vis-a-vis the Taiwan question.