December 25, 2017 / 3:10 AM / 6 months ago

China has 'overwhelming advantage' in bringing Taiwan to heel, official says

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s growing economic, political and diplomatic power means it is achieving an “overwhelming advantage” in bringing self-ruled Taiwan to heel, and time is on China’s side, a senior official said in a comments published on Monday.

Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring what it considers a wayward province and sacred Chinese territory under its rule.

Writing in the influential state-run newspaper the Study Times, Liu Junchuan, who heads the liaison office of China’s policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said it was inevitable Taiwan would come under China’s control.

China’s economic growth means its economy now far surpasses Taiwan’s, and the trend would only continue, Liu wrote in the paper, which is published by the Central Party School that trains rising Communist Party officials.

“The swift development and massive changes in the mainland of the motherland are creating an increasingly strong attraction for the people of Taiwan,” he said.

“The contrast in power across the Taiwan Strait will become wider and wider, and we will have a full, overwhelming strategic advantage over Taiwan,” Liu added.

“The economic, political, social, cultural and military conditions for achieving the complete reunification of the motherland will become even more ample.”

The concepts of peaceful reunification and “one country, two systems” would become even more attractive to Taiwan’s people and foreign forces will not be able to stop it, Liu said.

“The basic situation of the Taiwan Strait continuing to develop in a direction beneficial to us will not change, and time and momentum are on our side.”

China has long mooted taking Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” form of government, which is supposed to give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, and applying it to Taiwan, though the people of the proudly democratic island have shown no interest in being ruled by the autocratic mainland.

Taiwan says Beijing does not understand what democracy is and that only Taiwan’s people can decide the island’s future.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have soured since Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won presidential elections last year, with China suspecting she wants to push for the island’s formal independence.

Tsai says she wants peace with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

China has stepped up military drills around Taiwan and squeezed Taiwan’s international space, siphoning off its few remaining diplomatic allies.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese civil war to the Communists.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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