The Speech Wars – January 2019.

                                 by David Parmer / Tokyo

Both China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen delivered New Years addresses on January 1, 2019. Mr. Xi’s speech was fairly standard; he talked about achievements in the past year and plans for the coming year about China’s achievements in both its economy and its space program and the coming 70th anniversary of the PRC. 

President Tsai’s New Year’s Speech

Tsai Ing-wen’s New Years Day speech recapped 2018, much as Xi Jinping’s speech did. She covered the recent Taiwan elections and said that it most surely was not a referendum on Taiwan sovereignty.

She said cross-strait relations should be conducted in a rational manner. She also noted that Taiwan is strongly affected by the US-China trade friction and is doing what is necessary to cope with this situation. She also proposed four “musts” for equitable cross-strait relations. She said that China must face the reality of the Republic of China, and that Taiwan is a democratic country. President Tsai closed her speech by telling her compatriots that Taiwanese must:

  • Fight for our livelihood
  • Protect our democracy
  • Safeguard our sovereignty

President Xi’s Speech on The 40th Anniversary of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan ( Jan.2, 2019)

President Xi Jinping gave another speech the following day, January 2, 2019 at the Great hall of The People in Beijing. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of issuing the Message To Compatriots in Taiwan, which was sent by The Standing Committee of The People’s Congress on Jan 1, 1979.

The message basically laid out the blueprint for cross-strait relations, reiterated the one-China policy, called for direct links in mail, transport and trade and carry on Chinese culture and promote cross-strait talks. There were several unambiguous take-aways from Xi’s speech including:

  • China must, and will be reunited
  • There is no room for separatist activities
  • There will be no use of force except against separatists and foreign elements
  • The Taiwan question is an internal Chinese question–a family affair and is to be settled by Chinese
  • Reunification is an historical trend and must be accomplished
  • All parties should send representatives to discuss cross strait-relations and the future of the nation

President Tsai Ing-wen’s Rebuttal to Mr. Xi’s Jan. 2 Speech

On the same day, January 2, Taiwan’s President Tsai delivered a strong rebuttal to Mr. Xi’s comments on the 1979 Message to Compatriots. In her “rebuttal” before the foreign press, President Tsai:

  • Called on the international community to support Taiwan
  • Stated that the concept of “one country, two systems” was unacceptable
  • Urged China to stop bullying Taiwan
  • Stated: “We have never accepted the 1992 Consensus.”
  • Again reiterated that China must recognize the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
  • Stated that all contacts must be government-to-government and not party-to-party as Mr. Xi suggested
  • The results of the 9-in-1 election did not mean the abandonment of Taiwan’s national sovereignty

The first two days of January 2019 seemed to sum up the positions of both Taiwan and the PRC and set the tone for the year to come.It is clear that the PRC is adamant about Taiwan’s re-integration into the Motherland, and Taiwan is equally adamant that this will happen.

How things will move forward is anybody’s guess, and the pressure is rising–it may not be at the boiling point yet, but there seems no chance for cooling off, at least not in 2019. Please let us know your thoughts on Taiwan and the PRC.


Photo: Office of the President Taiwan

Full Text of President Tsai’s “rebuttal” to Xi Jinping

Highlights of  President Xi’s speech on Xinhua