The CCP’s “Taiwan Work” Surrounding the Winter Olympics and the Annual “Two Sessions”

The CCP’s “Taiwan Work” Surrounding the Winter Olympics and the Annual “Two Sessions”

The CCP’s “Taiwan Work” Surrounding the Winter Olympics and the Annual “Two Sessions”

In February and early March, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) conducted two major political events, both of which played noteworthy roles in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP, 中國共產黨) ongoing political propaganda and united front “Taiwan work” (臺灣工作). The first of these was the Beijing Winter Olympics, held from February 4-20—which, like the earlier 2008 Summer Olympics, was the occasion for heavy-handed propaganda regarding the “harmonious, peaceful, and loving” nature of the Chinese state, as well as widespread international criticism of Beijing’s human rights abuses. The second of these events was the “Two Sessions” (兩會), one of the major milestones in the PRC’s annual public political calendar. The “Two Sessions” consist of the simultaneous annual meetings of the PRC’s National People’s Congress (NPC, 全國人民代表大會), the country’s rubber-stamp legislature that codifies CCP policy directives into law; and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, 中國人民政治協商會議), a nominal political advisory body that serves as the centerpiece of the CCP united front architecture, as well as a stage-managed forum for prioritized CCP propaganda themes. The “Two Sessions” are always worth watching for their signals on future policy directions, and this year’s meetings, held from March 4-11, were no exception—although they were perhaps more revealing for what they did not say, rather than for what they did.

Propaganda and United Front Outreach Related to the Winter Olympics

In the political realm, one of the cornerstones of CCP united front policy is engagement with political figures from the “Deep Blue” (深藍色) pro-unification spectrum of Taiwan politics. This was further demonstrated in a meeting on February 5 in Beijing between Wang Yang (汪洋)—chairman of the CPPCC, and the CCP Politburo member with primary responsibility for the united front policy portfolio—and former Kuomintang (KMT, 國民黨) Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱). Hung had traveled to Beijing to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics—after which she issued a media statement declaring that the successful hosting of the Olympics “demonstrated our Chinese people’s steadfast willpower” (展現了我們中華民族堅定的意志力), and that it was a “shared glory of our Chinese people” (我們中華民族共同的榮耀). 

The official PRC summary of the meeting between Wang and Hung stressed the ethnic commonality of people on both sides of the strait, and that “the historical trend of cross-strait reunification cannot be stopped by any force” (兩岸統一的歷史大勢任何勢力阻擋不了). It also stressed that differences across the strait could be addressed by “democratic consultation” (民主協商) involving “Taiwan’s various parties, organizations, and persons”—with the former phrase serving as a long-standing euphemism for addressing issues within the framework of the CCP’s united front system. [1] The closing of the Winter Olympics was bookended by a similar virtual meeting on February 21 between Wang and New Party (新黨) Chairman Wu Cheng-tian (吳成典), who was leading a delegation of persons from Taiwan to attend the closing ceremonies of the games. Wu was quoted as vowing that the New Party would “be the vanguard in igniting the flame of hope for the people of both the mainland and Taiwan in the course of national reunification.”

Themes Relating to Taiwan at the PRC’s “Two Sessions”

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference

In relation to Taiwan, this year’s sessions of the CPPCC (convened from March 4-10) and the NPC (convened from March 5-11) were most striking for their lack of any new initiatives on Taiwan policy. Last year’s “Two Sessions” reinforced standard CCP themes regarding Taiwan—and most notably, included signals of a future “national unification law” (國家統一法) targeting the island, possibly intended to affirm or amplify aspects of the PRC’s 2005 Anti-Secession Law. However, in the official messaging from this year’s meetings, Taiwan received mostly pro forma mentions. For example, in his official work report presented at the opening of the CPPCC, Wang Yang mentioned Taiwan only once, in stating that the government would continue efforts to “strengthen united friendship ties with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas Chinese compatriots.” (Wang did provide, however, two further obligatory mentions of advancing “the complete unification of the motherland.”)

Another cornerstone of PRC policy towards Taiwan is the effort to amplify the status of CCP-controlled front organizations oriented towards Taiwan and the cause of “national reunification.” Among the most prominent of these front groups are the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (“Taimeng,” 臺灣民主自治同盟), one of the eight nominal “democratic parties” in the PRC system; and the All-China Federation of Taiwanese Compatriots (“Tailian,” 中華全國臺灣同胞聯誼會), a “patriotic popular organization” (愛國民眾團體) for Taiwan persons residing in the PRC. Representatives of these groups either spoke at the CPPCC proceedings, or else were cited by state media: 

  • Taimeng Vice-Chairman Zhang Zexi (張澤熙) delivered an address to the CPPCC on March 7. Per the official CPPCC summary of his comments, Zhang offered boilerplate comments that “Taiwan compatriots” would “undertake together the sacred mission of advancing the great revival of the Chinese nation […] unceasingly advance cross-strait peaceful development, integrated development, [and] give an even firmer popular foundation for achieving the motherland’s complete unification.”  
  • Taimeng central committee member Jiang Liping (江利平) was quoted as calling for a “cross-strait common market” (兩岸共同市場), and stated that cross-strait integrated economic development must continue. In this, the “most important [consideration] is to promote feelings and identification with the nation [on the part of] Taiwan compatriots” (最重要的是增進臺胞對民族、國家的情感和認知認同).
  • Tailian Vice-President Yang Yizhou (楊毅周) commented on the Party’s Comprehensive Plan for Resolving the Taiwan Problem in the New Era (新時代黨解決臺灣問題的總體方略) (see previous GTB discussion here), stating that it would “resolutely advance the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”
  • Taimeng standing committee member Luo Shaming (駱沙鳴) similarly praised the plan for “deepening cross-strait integrated development” (深化兩岸融合發展), and asserted that resolving the Taiwan problem is now “entering active voice, [and] becoming progressive tense” (進入主動式、成為進行時).

The National People’s Congress

One of the centerpieces of the annual NPC meeting is the official Government Work Report (政府工作報告) delivered by the premier, the administrative head of government (as nominally distinct from the Party). In this year’s report, presented by PRC Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), Taiwan was mentioned in only one passage near the end:

We must persist in the fundamental policies for Taiwan work, implement the Party’s Comprehensive Plan for Resolving the Taiwan Problem in the New Era, insist on the “One China Principle” (一個中國原則) and the “1992 Consensus” (九二共識), advancing the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and unification of the motherland. Resolutely oppose the “Taiwan independence” separatist path, [and] resolutely oppose interference by external forces. Compatriots on both sides of the strait should work together with common spirit, sharing in the glorious enterprise of national revival.

Li added to these comments at an official press conference held at the conclusion of the NPC on March 11, in which he criticized “separatist activities aimed at ‘Taiwan independence’,” and advocated for “the peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations [to] share the benefits of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” 

Wang Yang also made an appearance at the NPC, at a March 9 meeting with the “Taiwan Province” delegation. People’s Daily provided an official summary of the meeting, which offered a recitation of familiar platitudes about upholding the “One-China Principle,” “resolutely opposing interference by foreign forces” (堅決反對外部勢力干涉), and the need for all Chinese to “work hand-in-hand for the great enterprise of unifying the motherland” (攜手共促祖國統一大業). This summary offered nothing new, but the sight of the appointed delegates dutifully taking notes on Wang’s comments made clear Beijing’s expectations.

PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) offered further commentary on Taiwan at an NPC press conference held on March 7. Wang asserted that there was no valid comparison between the situations of Taiwan and Ukraine—on the grounds that the dispute between Russia and Ukraine was a conflict between countries, whereas “Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory.” Wang also followed standard messaging that blamed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, 民主進步黨) for all problems in cross-Strait relations, while offering a dual swipe at both Taiwan’s government and the United States. Specifically, he asserted that “embracing foreigners while ‘scheming for independence’ is a dead-end, [and] ‘using Taiwan to restrain China’ is doomed to fail […] in the end Taiwan will return to the bosom of the motherland” (“挾洋謀獨”沒有出路,”以台制華”註定失敗,臺灣終將會回到祖國的懷抱).  


The ruling authorities of the CCP will inevitably attempt to use any major public event as a means to bolster their authority, and to further promote the Party’s prioritized propaganda narratives. This is particularly true in regards to a high-priority issue like Taiwan, which Beijing continues to claim as an “inseparable” part of China’s national territory. As such, during the Winter Olympics, the CCP sought to publicize the controversy surrounding skater Huang Yu-ting (黃郁婷), as well as the stage-managed meetings with “Deep Blue” political figures, to play up a narrative that the people of Taiwan—as distinct from Taiwan’s government—are filled with pride in their Chinese identity and eager for unification under the aegis of the PRC. By comparison, the official proceedings of the “Two Sessions” were noteworthy in part for their lack of any substantive discussion of Taiwan issues, beyond recitation of familiar themes and boilerplate slogans. There were no new Taiwan-related policy initiatives unveiled, and no signaling of future legislation along the lines of the “national unification law” that attracted speculation at the 2021 NPC. [2] 

However, this in itself may be significant. It is likely that the lead-up to the 20th Party Congress later this year (where Xi Jinping (習近平) is expected to assume de facto lifetime tenure as party general secretary), as well as the botched Russian invasion of Ukraine, are engendering greater caution in the higher decision-making circles of the party. This suggests that the CCP leadership will likely maintain its hardline stance on the thorny issue of Taiwan—and continue “gray zone” pressure and subversive united front activities—while deferring any new policy initiatives until both the domestic and international political environments have made themselves clearer.

The main point: The Winter Olympics held in Beijing in February, and the annual “Two Sessions” conducted in March, both provided opportunities for Beijing to conduct further propaganda and united front “Taiwan work” directed at the island. However, the lack of any substantive new statements on Taiwan policy at the “Two Sessions” suggests that the CCP leadership is adopting a restrained policy posture in the lead-up to this year’s 20th Party Congress.

[1] Per official party definition, “democratic consultation” (民主協商) is a key concept of the CCP’s united front work, and “is an important method for implementing long-term multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party” (是實行中國共產黨領導下的多黨派長期合作的一種重要方法.) See: “民主協商” (“Democratic Consultation”), CPPCC, Sep. 26, 2011, https://www.cppcc.gov.cn/2011/09/26/ARTI1317001118796947.shtml.

[2] Some media outlets picked up on Li Keqiang’s mention of “resolving the Taiwan problem in the new era” as a possible new indicator of intent to force unification during the nearer-term tenure of Xi Jinping; however, the “comprehensive plan” slogan has circulated since at least November 2021, and its usage by Premier Li appears to reflect continuing use of official phraseology rather than a shift in policy.