Taiwan, a self-governing island of 23 million people, has remained largely silent on Xi Jinping’s potential third term as head of the Communist Party of China.
So far, there has been no official statement from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen or the Mainland Affairs Council, the island’s government agency responsible for cross-Strait relations.
Taiwanese media covered the timing of the Party Congress and the rare anti-Xi protest that took place in Beijing on Thursday, but domestic affairs – such as campaigns for midterm elections next month and the presence of a tropical storm near Taiwan – dominated the headlines instead.
Taiwan’s future: However, the Taiwanese government is likely paying close attention to Xi’s opening speech on Sunday and what he might say regarding his vision for Taiwan’s future.
China’s ruling Communist Party considers Taiwan to be its territory, although it has never controlled it. He has long vowed to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
During a speech last week on Taiwan’s National Day, Tsai said there was “no room for compromise” on Taiwan’s sovereignty, but she was willing to work with China to find “mutually acceptable ways” to maintain peace.
“The consensus of the Taiwanese people… is to defend our sovereignty and our free and democratic way of life. There is no room for compromise on that,” she said.
Rising tensions: Tensions in the Taiwan Strait escalated after Beijing conducted large-scale military exercises around Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island in early August. .
Beijing now regularly sends fighter jets across the center line of the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan and China.
However, Wen-ti Sung, a Taiwanese political scientist at the Australian National University, said on Twitter that a recent statement from the Communist Party suggests that Beijing is unlikely to use force in the short term as it wants to prioritize “domestic political needs” and “maintain strategic patience”.
“What many are eager to hear is exactly what Xi will say in terms of rhetorical threats against Taiwan,” said Lev Nachman, assistant professor of politics at National Taiwan Chengchi University.
“Xi’s speech will likely be heard in Taiwan, but rather than convincing Taiwanese hearts and minds to become more sympathetic to (China), it will most likely lead to a further increase in support for Tsai and the DPP,” he said. he added. referring to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan.