Friday, December 27, 2013

As China rides high, a downcast Taiwan becomes more vulnerable

China is convinced that history is on its side and that its political system is the best. What does this mean for Taiwan? 

After decades of living in the shadow of superpowers, the Chinese leadership today seems to believe it has developed a political system that is superior to any other on the planet. Combine that with the emergence of what is probably the most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping and a party apparatus that feels it can finally get things done, and China could be forgiven for regarding itself as the new “shining city upon a hill.” That new sense of superiority has already manifested itself in the form of risky behavior in the East and South China Sea, and could have a substantial impact on Beijing’s “reunification” strategy for Taiwan. 

Speaking in Taipei on December 26, long-time China watcher James McGregor argued that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary-General and President Xi Jinping is now the most powerful man in China since Deng Xiaoping. Unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, a somewhat out-of-date leader who never succeeded in getting the upper hand on the powerful Central Standing Committee, Xi has quickly seized control over the reform plan as well as the security apparatus, which the just-concluded Third Plenum made all the more evident, McGregor said. 

What are the implications for Taiwan, where the leadership is weak and whose democratic political system seems beset by many problems? 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo by the author)

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