CCP Amplifies United Front in Taiwan Retrocession Commemorative Events
For the 75th anniversary of the retrocession of Taiwan (台灣光復) that followed the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army at the end of World War II, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rolled out the political red carpets to commemorate the event that marked the end to Japan’s 50 years of colonial rule over Taiwan on October 25, 1945. While the occasion had been commemorated for its symbolic meaning in previous years on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the scale and profile of this year’s events in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were especially remarkable. Amidst a politically charged atmosphere, Chinese government institutions organized multiple high-profile events that were attended by senior CCP leaders.
On October 22, at the Diaoyutai Guesthouse (釣魚台國賓館), a diplomatic facility in Beijing reserved for high-level official gatherings, Wang Yang (汪洋)—the 4th highest-ranking communist official on the all-powerful CCP Politburo Standing Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, 中國人民政治協商會議), which controls the Party’s United Front system—spoke at a symposium entitled “Commemorating Taiwan’s Retrocession, Advancing the Reunification of the Motherland” (紀念台灣光復, 推進祖國統一). The event was also attended by Wan Exiang (萬鄂湘), vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (中國國民黨革命委員會), a splinter party founded by members of the KMT (which now exists in Taiwan) in 1948. More than 100 people reportedly participated in the seminar, including individuals from the central government, parties and people’s organizations, representatives of the Taiwan Provincial National People’s Congress, Taiwan-related experts and scholars, and people from Taiwan.
While the organizers described the event as an “academic” symposium, it was anything but a scholarly exchange. Organized by the premier Chinese government think tank, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS, 中國社會科學院), the event was hosted by the president of CASS and former party secretary for Henan province, Xie Fuzhan (謝伏瞻), and was attended by a raft of political operatives from the CCP’s United Front system. Other speakers at the symposium included Su Hui (蘇輝), vice chairman of the CPPCC and chairman of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (台湾民主自治同盟)—one of eight CCP sanctioned United Front parties. The event was also attended by 12 members of the New Party (新黨) from Taiwan—which is part of the pan-blue coalition—including its Honorary Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明), among others.
In his speech, Wang extolled the Chinese people’s victory in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War and hailed the retrocession of Taiwan as a historical achievement that effectively defended national sovereignty and territorial integrity, bringing an end to China’s 100 years of humiliation. He asserted that the return of Taiwan was a great victory for all Chinese people, including the compatriots in Taiwan. The United Front czar further proclaimed that Taiwan’s retrocession is indisputable proof that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory even though the two sides have yet to be completely “reunified.” “As long as there is a glimmer of hope for peace,” Wang mentioned, “Beijing will act benevolently. However, it reserves all necessary means to counter Taiwan independence and will never tolerate Taiwanese secessionist forces.” “Promoting peaceful reunification of the motherland is a shared responsibility of all Chinese sons and daughters, including Taiwanese compatriots,” Wang exclaimed.
Emphasizing the speech’s underlying point on CCP policy, Wang stressed the Party’s continued adherence to the “1992 Consensus” (九二共識)—which embodies the “One-China Principle” (一中原則)—and resolutely opposing “Taiwan independence” forces. Notably, Wang vowed that the CCP would never allow sacred territories that have been lost and regained to be lost again (决不容许失而复得的神圣领土得而复失). Towards that end, he added that it was necessary to promote cross-Strait economic integration and deepen cross-Strait cultural exchanges. Furthermore, he specifically highlighted the need to be highly vigilant against Taiwan’s ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), for its so-called “de-Sinicization” efforts; vigorously promote the patriotic education of Taiwan compatriots; strengthen research on the history of cross-Strait non-governmental exchanges; enhance Taiwan compatriots’ national, ethnic, and cultural identity; and cultivate the spiritual bonds between compatriots on both sides of the Strait.
Striking the same tone on October 23 at another high-profile political confab marking the 70th anniversary of CCP’s entry into the 1950-53 Korean War, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平) proclaimed:
China will never seek hegemony or expansion, and firmly oppose hegemonism and power politics. We will never sit back and watch damages to national sovereignty, security, and development interests, and will never allow anyone or any force to invade and divide the sacred territory of the motherland. Once such a serious situation occurs, the Chinese people will definitely meet it head-on!
At another commemorative event for Taiwan’s retrocession on October 25, the director of the CCP Central Committee’s Taiwan Affairs Office and State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, Liu Jie-yi (劉結一), attended a public exhibit entitled “The Unimpaired Territorial Integrity: A Thematic Exhibition Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Taiwan’s Recovery,” organized by the National Museum of China (中国国家博物馆). The exhibit was co-organized with two United Front organizations: the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (台灣民主自治同盟) and the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots (全國台聯會). More than 100 people from both sides of the Strait reportedly attended the opening ceremony, including Zhu Xiaodan (朱小丹), director of the Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan Overseas Chinese Committee of the CPPCC; All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots Chairman Huang Zhi-xian (黃志賢); Vice Chairman of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League Yang Jian (楊健); and Yok Mu-ming.
The museum’s director, Wang Chun-fa (王春法)—a member of the CCP and the CPPCC—stated that the exhibit was intended to commemorate the historical importance of Taiwan’s retrocession and to reflect on the compatriots’ historic struggle against Japanese invasion and colonial rule. According to the director, the exhibit is designed to promote Chinese national spirit by celebrating the great victory of compatriots on both sides of the Strait against foreign aggression. Further, he argued that it demonstrates that the mainland and Taiwan are an indivisible community bonded by a shared destiny. By organizing the exhibit, he hopes to encourage compatriots on both sides to remember history, remember the martyrs, jointly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, share national justice, promote “reunification” of the motherland, and realize the dream of national rejuvenation.
Since the mid-2000s, the CCP has been engaged in a concerted effort to re-assimilate the Kuomintang into its political narrative. To this end, it has held a series of high-profile “academic” symposiums that invited politicians and scholars from Taiwan to reexamine the Second Sino-Japanese War on a regular basis. These conferences are elements of the CCP’s broader United Front efforts to reframe and redefine the narrative of Chinese history, especially for events involving the Communist and Nationalist parties during the Republican period. Underscoring the nexus between propaganda and United Front activity, another event on Taiwan’s retrocession was also co-organized by the Nanjing Massacre History and International Peace Research Academy (中國南京大屠殺史與國際和平研究院). This organization, established in 2016, was launched by the Propaganda Departments of the Jiangsu Provincial CCP Party Committee and the Nanjing Municipal Party Committee. The high-profile commemorative event that Wang Yang attended is merely the latest in this long string of efforts, and should be viewed within the broader context of the CCP’s growing United Front and propaganda campaign against Taiwan.
The main point: The scale and profile of the PRC’s commemorative events for the 75th anniversary of Taiwan’s retrocession highlight its United Front objectives.
(The author would like to thank GTI Fall 2020 Intern Emilie Hu for her research assistance.)
Kaga Declaration: Growing Calls for a Japanese Taiwan Relations Act
The Taiwan-Japan Exchange Summit (台日交流高峰會), which was launched in 2015 and is comprised of local parliamentarians from across Japan and Taiwan, recently held its 6th summit in Kaga City in western Japan. The meeting saw the issuance of the “Kaga Declaration” (加賀宣言), which included a call for the Japanese government to promptly enact a “Taiwan-Japan Exchange Basic Law” (日台交流基本法) to enhance Taiwan-Japan diplomatic and security cooperation in the absence of official ties between the two governments. This is the latest in a series of growing calls from Japanese supporters of Taiwan who have sought to encourage the Japanese government to enact its own version of the United States’ Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) for over a decade.
The Kaga Declaration has three main points: 1) Japan should formulate the “Taiwan-Japan Exchange Basic Law” as soon as possible to promote Taiwan-Japan diplomatic and security policies; 2) Japan should more actively promote Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Organization (WHO); and 3) Japan should support Taiwan’s participation in the Comprehensive Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
While noteworthy, the call for the establishment of a law that would serve as the legal basis for authorizing expanded contacts in relations between Japan and Taiwan is not new. As far back as 2006, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) publicly called on Japan to formulate a Taiwan Relations Act akin to the US domestic law, which guides security, economic, and other relations between the United States and Taiwan. A Japanese TRA was also raised as a proposal for the government to consider in 2013 by a group of Taiwan specialists in Japan. In 2017 and again in 2019, Keisuke Suzuki, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who serves in Japan’s House of Representatives, suggested that the party is exploring a Japanese version of the TRA.
A joint statement issued as recently as in May 2019 by former senior American, Japanese, and Taiwanese officials called for a similar legislation for Japan. The joint statement issued by the Research Institute for Japan-US-Taiwan Relations (JUST)—a non-governmental think tank in Japan composed of former senior Japanese defense officials with an international advisory board—called for the enactment of a “Basic Act on Exchange between Japan and Taiwan.” This Act was described as the Japanese version of the TRA. According to supporters of the new law, the absence of a legal basis for conducting relations with Taiwan in Japan has hindered Tokyo’s ability to work effectively with Taiwan in responding to the growing threat posed by China. In their view, the Act is necessary in order to provide a legal justification for maintaining and even improving relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
The growing calls for Japan to enact its version of the Taiwan Relations Act are occurring against the backdrop of China’s increasing military aggressiveness towards Taiwan and its neighbors. Additionally, several prominent politicians entering new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s (菅義偉) cabinet are well known for their pro-Taiwan dispositions. Nobuo Kishi (岸信夫), who has been an outspoken supporter of deepening Taiwan-Japan cooperation and is now the defense minister in Suga’s cabinet, once led a group of around 70 lawmakers from the governing LDP as head of the Japan-Taiwan Young Parliamentary Association on Economic Exchange, which supported formulating a law that would help to strengthen economic relations and other exchanges with Taiwan. On one occasion, Kishi reportedly stated, “It [the legislation] doesn’t necessarily impair the position of China. Japan-Taiwan exchanges should be promoted.”
The mayor of Kaga, Riku Miyamoto (宮元陸)—who participated in the Taiwan-Japan Exchange Summit—has been an active promoter of bilateral relations between Taiwan and Japan. Miyamoto accompanied former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori (森喜朗) on his recent visit to Taiwan in order to participate in the farewell ceremony for former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in September. Miyamoto added: “Sometimes I feel sorry for thinking about how the Japanese treat Taiwanese.” According to Miyamoto, the Taiwan-Japan Exchange Summit is aimed at gathering forces to push the government to be more active in its approach to Taiwan. Miyamoto emphasized that the formulation of the “Taiwan-Japan Exchange Basic Law” would be of great importance and efforts should be made to encourage the central government to formulate the law.
In his speech, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan’s representative to Japan, maintained that the Taiwan-Japan Exchange Summit has helped to deepen the friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan. In response to media queries about the possibility of Japan enacting its version of the TRA, the Taiwanese representative said that enacting the basic law for Taiwan-Japan exchanges will be critical. “Why can the United States express support for Taiwan, but Japan can’t do it?” The main reason, according to Hsieh, is that Japan does not have a Taiwan Relations Act similar to the United States. Hsieh acknowledged that, despite there being many supporters of Taiwan in Japan, it is still very difficult for the country to enact a Taiwan Relations Act (because of Chinese pressure)—but it could start from the local council and the people.
The main point: The recent Taiwan-Japan Exchange Summit issued a declaration that included the call for the Japanese government to enact the “Taiwan-Japan Exchange Basic Law”—a legislation similar to the US Taiwan Relations Act.