Senior Chinese official Wang Huning calls for stronger push towards national reunification

126
Wang Huning

23rd February 2024 – (Beijing) Wang Huning, a prominent figure within the Communist Party of China (CPC), has emphasised the need for steadfast efforts in promoting national reunification. As a member of the Political Bureau’s Standing Committee and the Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, Wang delivered these remarks during a two-day meeting on Taiwan affairs held in Beijing.

Amidst Taiwan’s recent democratic election, which saw Vice President Lai Ching-te—a figure Beijing brands as a separatist—elected as the incoming president, China has reiterated its claim over the island. Lai, poised to assume office in May, has consistently advocated for dialogue with China, though his overtures have been met with resistance.

The high-level meeting that concluded on Friday, led by Wang Huning, the Communist Party’s fourth-ranked official, was a platform for Beijing to delineate its strategy for Taiwan in the year ahead. The anniversary of the People’s Republic’s foundation is being perceived as a catalyst for an intensified focus on what Beijing deems as ‘Taiwan-related work’.

According to Xinhua, Wang Huning emphasised the importance of addressing Taiwan with a “high sense of responsibility and mission” during this commemorative year. The strategy laid out involves a steadfast opposition to Taiwan’s independence, curbing external influences, and bolstering pro-unification sentiments within Taiwan.

The term ‘external forces’ is commonly understood within Chinese political discourse to reference U.S. military support for Taiwan and the island’s engagement with foreign governments.

Present at the meeting was Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who brings to the table his prior experience as the head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. The minister’s participation underscores the diplomatic weight China is placing on this issue.

The Taiwanese government maintains that China lacks the legitimacy to represent Taiwan internationally, arguing that the People’s Republic has never exerted governance over the island, rendering Beijing’s sovereignty claims baseless.

The origins of this cross-strait schism trace back to 1949 when Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People’s Republic after the civil war. The losing side, the Republic of China government, retreated to Taiwan and still identifies by that name, with mutual recognition between the two governments remaining elusive.