Xi’s Top Taiwan Hand Targets ‘Hostile Forces’ in Taiwan’s ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ Camps

Xi’s Top Taiwan Hand Targets ‘Hostile Forces’ in Taiwan’s ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ Camps

Xi’s Top Taiwan Hand Targets ‘Hostile Forces’ in Taiwan’s ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ Camps

In December 2021, the head of an influential think tank in Beijing argued that not only pro-Taiwan independence members in Taiwan’s “green camp,” but also anti-communist elements within the “blue camp,” should be treated by Beijing as “hostile forces” to China. The Tainan-born Wang Yifu (汪毅夫), president of the Beijing-based National Society of Taiwan Studies (NSTS, 全國台灣研究會), [1] a think tank regarded as Chinese Communist Party (CCP, 中國共產黨) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s (習近平) top think tank on Taiwan affairs, made the argument in a December 15 commentary published by the Hong Kong-based China Review News (中國評論新聞). [2] 

According to Wang, the “homogenization” of “reactionaries” from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, 民主進步黨) and other pro-Taiwan independence parties, alongside “diehards” from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT, 中國國民黨) is a dangerous phenomenon—one that unites both forces in a way that hinders “reunification.” While Beijing has been consistent in its targeting of, and opposition to, DPP “reactionaries”—among whom Wang lists former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and current President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)—the CCP has been more reluctant to criticize the KMT, which for many years it regarded as a potential partner for “reunification.” As such, while Beijing vehemently opposed Taiwan independence (taidu, 台獨), it tended to tacitly tolerate support within Taiwan for the Republic of China (ROC), or huadu (華獨) [3]—largely due to the fact that the latter tended to be associated with regimes that, like Beijing, opposed Taiwan independence.

Wang, however, claims that this view has misled the CCP, which has only awakened to this reality recently. Under Xi, CCP officials have begun to express discontent with the KMT’s ostensible lack of enthusiasm for unification. Moreover, the blue camp’s support for the “status quo,” which is tantamount to de facto ROC independence, has been reinforced by the KMT’s stated opposition to the “one country, two systems” (一國兩制) formula for unification, which Xi insists upon despite the debacle in Hong Kong. In fact, Wang notes that in its latest political platform, the KMT simultaneously stated its opposition to both “Taiwan independence” and “one country, two systems.” Wang also argues that the first KMT “diehard” to stigmatize the “one country, two systems” framework was former President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國), who said in 1984 that the formula was a form of deception meant to confuse the world about the possibility of peaceful coexistence between the two Chinas. 

In the broader sense, Wang argues, anyone who does not recognize Taiwan as a province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) should therefore be regarded as an enemy of Beijing. Consequently, the CCP should increase its support for a “unified patriotic” force to accomplish the “reunification” of Taiwan with China.

Wang is heavily involved in united front efforts aimed at Taiwan. Among other things, he served as the vice governor of Fujian Province from 1998 to 2008 (while Xi was governor), and was chairman of the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots (ACFTC, 中華全國台灣同胞聯誼會)—a united front affiliate of the CCP that looks after Taiwanese who live and work in the PRC—in 2012. In 2017, the ACFTC was part of a new strategy by Beijing to attract Taiwanese youth and small businesses.


Although it is impossible to say at this point whether Wang’s remarks reflect an official change in Beijing’s approach to Taiwan and its main political parties, his commentary reflects, as mentioned above, a gradual awakening to the facts on the ground in Taiwan. Chief among them is the fact that both main political parties oppose unification with the PRC, and both have also internalized and embraced—however imperfectly in some cases—democracy as the way of life for the people of Taiwan (or the ROC). Wang (and Beijing) are therefore absolutely correct in regarding taidu and huadu as fundamental impediments to the CCP’s efforts to annex Taiwan peacefully. A change of tactic—if indeed one is in the offing—would conceivably aim to undermine the further homogenization of these two related phenomena, given that increased unity between the “blue” and “green” camp strengthens Taiwan’s ability to counter China’s ambitions. More and more, Beijing will likely seek to turn the narrative into a zero-sum one, compelling the people of Taiwan to make a choice between independence or unification with the PRC. Furthermore, it will seek to erode the “gray zone” that currently exists within the KMT’s “status quo,” and the huadu that many party members and voters continue to embrace.

Such a policy would have serious consequences for the Taiwanese who currently live and work in China, as well as those, such as the artistic community, whose careers depend on access to the PRC market. By forcing Taiwanese to clearly state their support for unification with the PRC—as well as their opposition to not only taidu but also huadu—Beijing could exacerbate polarization within Taiwanese society. Additionally, it could effectively create an entire new category of Taiwanese who can no longer make a living in, or have access to, the Chinese market. In other words, merely stating one’s opposition to Taiwan independence while remaining vague on huadu would no longer be sufficient. The “status quo,” therefore, is no longer an option or a way for such persons to buy time.

Within Taiwan, the effects of such a shift may already have been felt. In November of last year, retired army major general Yu Pei-chen (于北辰), a former head of the KMT’s “deep blue” Huang Fu Hsing faction (黃復興) in Taoyuan, received death threats aimed at his wife and daughter, reportedly due to his criticism of the CCP. “You will die one by one, and your wife will be the first one to die,” said the letter, signed by the Taipei branch of the little-known pro-unification Chinese National Revival Squad (中華民族復興鋤奸隊) and using a one-time IP address located in Germany. Taiwanese law-enforcement authorities have launched an investigation to determine the nature of this organization.

A proud soldier who led the protests against President Tsai’s pension reform in 2016, Yu is vehemently huadu (as most generals aged 55 and below tend to be) and has also been heavily criticized by other members of the KMT over his criticism of some of the party’s policies, which he argued were undermining its appeal. His sudden dismissal as head of Huang Fu Hsing in September 2020 was also related to his comments. In late December, Yu and his wife quit the KMT, bemoaning the fact that not a single party member had reached out to him after receiving the threatening missive (President Tsai and Premier Su Tseng-chang [蘇貞昌], on the other hand, did). Commenting on the affair, Yu lamented that the KMT appears to have forgotten who its principal enemy is. Asked by reporters whether he would join the DPP, Yu replied that this was “absolutely impossible.”

The unwillingness of anyone within the blue camp to condemn the death threats against Yu’s family suggests that the CCP’s attempts to silence moderate members of the KMT — in other words, the “homogenized” supporters of huadu — may already be having an effect. Simultaneously, more radical, and possibly more pro-unification, voices have been taking over both the narrative and the party itself. The abolition of huadu as a “tolerable” counter to taidu within Taiwanese politics can only result in greater tensions in the Taiwan Strait, as well as greater instability in Taiwan, as Beijing collaborates more closely with and empowers elements within Taiwan whose views are antithetical to both the DPP and the mainstream “blue” camp. 

Depending on the future leadership of the KMT and the influence that factions such as Huang Fu Hsing have within it, the party could, in the name of retaining a modicum of access to the CCP, become a tacit ally in Beijing’s hardened stance on unification versus independence in the Taiwan Strait. Conversely, the emergence of leadership in the blue camp that is willing to defy more conservative forces and factions within the KMT could ensure greater unity in Taiwan. In the face of the threat posed by China, these groups could focus on the real overlap that, however rarely acknowledged, exists between taidu and huadu. For this to happen, however, the KMT leadership will have to declare, in no uncertain terms, that its principal enemy isn’t the DPP, but rather the CCP.

The main point: For decades, the CCP tacitly tolerated the existence of Republic of China de facto independence while maintaining an uncompromising stance on Taiwanese independence. But that may be changing, as Beijing realizes that the two forms of independence it faces in Taiwan are, when united, the greatest impediment to “peaceful unification.”

[1] For additional background on the NSTS, see, e.g., Russell Hsiao, “Former State Councilor Becomes Chairman of PRC’s National Society of Taiwan Studies,” Global Taiwan Brief 2, Issue 8 (2017), accessed January 11, 2022, https://globaltaiwan.org/2017/02/22-gtb-2-8/#RH022217.

[2] China Review News is a Hong Kong-based publication associated with the China Association for Promotion of Chinese Culture (CAPCC, 中華文化發展促進會). The CAPCC is a key platform of the Political Work Department (中央軍委政治工作部) under the Central Military Commission (CMC, 中央軍事委員會), which is headed by Xi Jinping. It is actively involved in the promotion of a cross-Strait “peace accord” and “re-unification.”

[3] Rather than an actual movement, huadu encompasses people in Taiwan [predominantly waishengren (外省人), or “Mainlanders”] who support the Republic of China, its institutions and values. As such, they tend to oppose both Taiwan independence—even if they agree on the need to defend their democratic way of life—and unification with the People’s Republic of China. [The hua in huadu comes from Zhonghua Minguo (中華民國), or Republic of China, in Chinese.]