New Perspectives on Taiwan's Defense and Foreign Policy Challenges
2: Locating Taiwan in Beijing's Vision for Global Leadership
Friday, March 25, 2022
11:30am – 1:00pm EST
Location: Conv. Center, Room 313A
National Intelligence University, United States
This paper recenters the Taiwan issue within the context of the Communist Party of China’s larger vision for making China into “a global leader” by mid-century. Many studies examine the prospects for conflict over Taiwan or diagnose growing tensions as a symptom of intensifying U.S.-China strategic rivalry. While a substantial subset of this literature details Beijing’s perspective, it generally does so in a way that abstracts away from the Party’s overarching goals for China as a whole. Most accounts focus instead on explaining the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue for Beijing as rooted in the trauma of China’s 19th and 20th century weakness and the threat to the Party’s legitimacy that permanent loss of the island would entail. In contrast, this paper draws upon official literature surrounding two recent political milestones at which the Party enunciated its comprehensive, long-term ambitions for the country, to explore how Taiwan fits into these larger objectives. At the 19th Party Congress in October 2017, Xi Jinping announced for the first time the aim of China’s becoming “a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence” by mid-century as part of “a new era for socialism with Chinese characteristics.” At the Party’s 100th anniversary celebration in July 2021, Xi further framed the anniversary as the jumping off point for “a new journey” also culminating at mid-century. This paper explores how Beijing’s Taiwan policy and the changing nature of the Party’s public messaging to Taipei reflect these larger visions.