The best weapons China has against Taiwan is
- International Blockout
- Economic Intergration
- Military/Pyschological Coercion
It is in the best interests of China to prolong any negotiation at all for as long as possible, thus giving them longer time to gain a leverage in their unification strategy, not by force but by intergration.
Two things they need to achive is:
- Slowly erode away Taiwan’s will to resist as China grows
- Build up enough military power to make the U.S unwilling to intervene
If for example, by 2020, when Taiwan knows that it is very unlikely for the U.S to come to the rescue if a war occurs, then Taiwan will definitly to forced into an unfair negotiation, at which China is willing to accept. But right now there is no interest in part of China to enter the negotiation table since the outcome of a fair negotiation is not what they seek and might force them to loose any legitimacy for future unification propaganda. This is evident by them insisting that Taiwan cannot delay the vaunted unification with the motherland while simultaneously preventing any discussions from taking place between the governments. But if they know that we are set on changing country’s title by a certain date, they might be forced into a negotiation table. The Consititutional reform aim at 2006 will certainly put pressure on China to respond but even then that might not be enough for them to enter into a fair negotiation because there’s no changing to the name of the country.
But will they actually attack if things go wrong?
The general impression is that there is a red line to their principle and if once crossed China will attack. Another opinion is that China had painted itself into a corner by it’s own public nationalistic propaganda, unification nationalism, and it will be forced into an attack from such domestic pressure.
I believe in neither of these two. Their communist regime has no idealistic principle that cannot be bend, the only principle they will abide by is that their regime must stay in power and unite their current China at all cost, that is their current ideology. They do not want to see a Soviet-Style collapsement and is doing everything they could to maintain that order. But what they are afraid of is not a domino affects of Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong seperating away. Hong Kong will not seek independence just because Taiwan wrote a new Consitution, their situation is different. Tibetans have not much to go against the regime and China had always dealt with the Xinjiang issue. What they are afraid of is a nationwide rebellion from the masses for a government overthrow. The importance of it is it being nationwide crisis and protest from the masses, not a scattered protest from a few thousands or by the students.
One circumstance that will trigger such scenario is a financial crisis, or a continue growing of mass unemployment. A formal declaration of seperation between Taiwan and China will not trigger such crisis, but a fail attack or even a successful attempt on Taiwan will.
Why I think China’s nationalism will not trigger a crisis and cause the CCP to loose power in an event of loosing Taiwan is because what happened after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. After that event people in China, especially people from the cities had learned not to go against the party. The working class and the students know what it will mean if they take it to the streets against their government. So instead their focus had shifted from political reforms to personal financial gains and the student’s focus shifted to nationalism against America, Japan, and Taiwan Independence. But note that the student’s nationalistic protests are now controllable by the party, thus could be used for a political statement but could also be quieted if the party does not allow it. The uncontrollable protests are no longer from the students but from the Falon Gong movements and also the movements of farmers in rural areas. Thus I don’t see the CCP being pressured into a war by nationalistic sentiments.
The other elements that might pressure China is CCP’s own power struggle from the top leadership, but is Jiang Zemin really such a brave man? If he is he wouldn’t be setting the timetable for 2020, when he’ll already be dead.