The move appears to signal a decision by CCP leader Xi Jinping to grant Taiwan less autonomy than previously promised should the regime succeed in forcibly uniting Taiwan with the mainland.
The paper, published in state-owned media outlet China Daily, was similar to two other documents, which were published in 1993 and 2000. In the newest version, however, the CCP removed a vow that it would “not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan.”
“We will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures,” the paper reads.
“We will always be ready to respond with the use of force or other necessary means to interference by external forces or radical action by separatist elements.”
The continued focus on “radical separatists” and guarantees to “leave no room for separatist activities in any form” in Taiwan is notable, given that CCP propaganda describes the president of Taiwan as a radical separatist.
The CCP claims that Taiwan is a rogue province of China that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary. However, democratic Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP.
CCP authorities have generally proposed that Taiwan be compelled into annexation through a “one country, two systems” model, similar to the formula under which Hong Kong came into Chinese rule in 1997. However, the CCP effectively abandoned that model in 2020, when it pushed through security legislation circumventing Hong Kong’s constitution.
Every mainstream Taiwanese political party has thus rejected the “one country, two systems” proposal, which has garnered virtually no public support among the Taiwanese.
A line from the 2000 version of the white paper that stated “anything can be negotiated” if Taiwan didn’t seek independence is also missing from the latest paper.
The publication of the white paper comes just a week after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan. The CCP used that visit to justify its largest ever military exercises around Taiwan, which effectively blockaded the island from some international shipping and saw Chinese missiles fired into Japanese waters.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council condemned the paper, saying that it’s “full of lies” and that Taiwan is a sovereign nation.
“Only Taiwan’s 23 million people have the right to decide on the future of Taiwan,” the council stated. “They will never accept an outcome set by an autocratic regime.”