The Chinese Regime’s Attempts to Take Control of Taiwan Failed in 2020

January 14, 2021 Updated: January 15, 2021


Chinese leader Xi Jinping did not address his Taiwan compatriots in his New Year’s speech.

In comparison, on Jan. 2, 2019, Xi delivered a warm speech at a gathering to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the “Issuance of the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.” The event was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The introduction of Xi’s “important speech” included “sincere greetings and heartfelt blessings” to “compatriots in Taiwan.”

But in 2020, the “compatriots in Taiwan” have received the cold shoulder from Xi. And this could also be the case for 2021. The main reason is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has suffered six major setbacks in its “one country, two systems” plan to govern Taiwan. Beijing claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory, although Taiwan has its own military, democratically elected government, and currency.

Six Major Setbacks

First, the general public in Taiwan learned not to believe in the CCP’s “one country, two systems” plan to reunite the self-ruled island with the mainland. They witnessed the CCP take away Hong Kong’s autonomy when it violated the city’s “one country, two systems” framework, despite the fact that Beijing promised to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy upon the city’s transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997, in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong escalated in June 2019, when millions took to the street in opposition of a bill that would allow Beijing to extradite people in Hong Kong for trials in politicized Chinese courts. Many have since left the city out of fear that they could be persecuted for their roles in the movement following the passage of Beijing’s national security law. Taiwan is one of the top destinations for Hongkongers fleeing their city.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters display placards during a demonstration to support Hong Kong protesters in Taipei, Taiwan on June 16, 2019. (Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images)

Second, Tsai Ing-wen won a second term by a landslide victory in the island’s presidential election on Jan. 11, 2020. Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won by a margin of around 20 percent—or more than 2.6 million votes—against her main opponent, Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT) party.  The CCP were pinning their hopes on Han to win the election, as the KMT favors friendlier ties with mainland China. The DPP traditionally advocates for formal independence from the mainland, though Tsai has said she wishes to maintain the status quo. Tsai’s 8.17 million votes—or about 57 percent of the popular—is the highest tally since the self-ruled island began its first direct presidential election in 1996.

Third, the Taiwan legislator election was held on the same day as the 2020 Taiwan presidential election. The DPP won 61 of the 113 legislative seats, and once again became the majority party of the Legislative Yuan. The KMT won only 38 seats.

Fourth, Han Kuo-yu, also the mayor of Kaohsiung City, was voted out of office after an unprecedented recall election on June 6, 2020.  More than 939,000 people voted to remove Han for being “unfit” for office. About 25,000 people voted against Han’s recall. The voting turnout was about 42 percent. Han became the first mayor of a municipality in Taiwan’s history to be removed this way.

Fifth, DPP candidate Chen Chi-mai became the new mayor of Kaohsiung city in August 2020. Chen won more than 670,000 votes in the by-election.

Sixth, while the relationship between the United States and the Chinese regime fell to the lowest point last year, cooperation between the United States and Taiwan rose to the highest level. The United States doesn’t have a formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan but maintains unofficial ties with the island under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which was signed into law by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in April 1979. The TRA authorizes the United States to provide the island with military equipment for its self-defense and set up a nonprofit corporation called the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which is now the de facto U.S. embassy on the island.

After a series of failed attempts to control Taiwan, has the CCP taken any measures to “forge closer bonds of heart and mind between the people on both sides,” as Xi had said in his 2020 New Year’s speech to the compatriots in Taiwan? The answer is: no.

China encountered major disasters in 2020, including diseases and natural disasters such as COVID-19 which claimed the lives of many Chinese citizens; African swine fever which killed millions of pigs; locusts destroyed crops; food shortage crisis; and severe flooding.

China flood
Inundated buildings and vehicles after heavy rain caused flooding in Shexian county, Huangshan city, in eastern China’s Anhui Province on July 7, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

China’s economy is also in bad shape. At a press conference after the end of the CCP’s annual rubber-stamp legislature meetings “Two Sessions” in May last year, Premier Li Keqiang revealed that around 600 million Chinese citizens earn 1,000 yuan ($140) a month.

CCP’s Intimidation Tactics

The CCP has adopted six tactics to threaten Taiwan in 2020.

First, the CCP pushed for a propaganda narrative that Taiwan should be “liberated.” On April 7 last year, Beijing-based Chinese news site Duowei News posted an article, titled “The U.S. Military Is Hit Hard by the Virus, and There Is a ‘Window of Opportunity’ to Liberate Taiwan.” It states: “From the perspective of military struggle, many people believe that the epidemic sweeping the world provides a rare opportunity for China’s PLA [People Liberation Army] to liberate Taiwan.”

On April 15, a news outlet under the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist State Council published an article, titled “When Will the PLA Start to Liberate Taiwan? An Authoritative Interpretation of a PLA Expert.” On the same day, the Chinese Army’s Eastern Theater Command posted on its official WeChat account: “Throw away illusions and prepare for war.”

On July 11, Yang Chengjun, a communist expert on nuclear strategy, posted an article on WeChat which stated that the use of force has become the only option for Beijing to reunite Taiwan with the mainland.

F-16V fighter jet lands on a highway
A Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) F-16V fighter jet lands on a highway used as an emergency runway during the Han Kuang military exercise simulating the China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invading the island, in Changhua, Taiwan, on May 28, 2019. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Second, from April to October last year, the Chinese Navy held more than 30 military exercises in the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea. The outside world has no way of knowing how much taxpayers’ money was wasted on these military drills, but it must be a large amount.

Third, when Wuhan was locked down on Jan. 23, 2019 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese warplanes have continuously entered the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan. On Feb. 10, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen responded to Beijing’s provocative military activities and said that the CCP should focus on curbing the spread of the virus and that military actions are meaningless and unnecessary. However, the Chinese warplanes continued to enter Taiwan’s zone and this continued throughout the year. According to statistics from Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, from the beginning of last year to Oct. 7, the CCP dispatched warplanes to invade Taiwan’s ADIZ 1,710 times. In response, Taiwan dispatched jet fighters and intercepted Chinese planes 2,972 times, at a cost of approximately $850 million.

Fourth, as of Oct. 7, 2020, a total of 49 Chinese warplanes flew across the median line of the Taiwan Strait. Previously, Chinese jet fighters only crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait in very few cases. On Sept. 21, the spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, stated at a press briefing that the so-called “median line” is non-existent. That was the first time the CCP explicitly denied the existence of the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Fifth, as of Oct. 7, the CCP dispatched 1,029 warships to intimidate Taiwan, including the “Shandong” aircraft carrier crossing the Taiwan Strait.

Sixth, on Oct. 18, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post quoted a source as saying, “The DF-17 hypersonic missile will gradually replace the old short range ballistic missiles DF-11s and DF-15s that were deployed in the southeast region for decades.” On Aug. 26, Beijing launched four DF-26 and DF-21 missiles into the South China Sea. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, the CCP has deployed more than 1,500 ballistic and cruise missiles that could be aimed at Taiwan at any time.

Epoch Times Photo
Military vehicles carrying DF-15B ballistic missiles—replacement of DF-11—participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 3, 2015. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The CCP justifies its threat against Taiwan in the name of defending its sovereignty and to ensure that the self-ruled island does not gain its independence. The Chinese regime has used this excuse to deceive its own people.

The CCP has given a lot of Chinese land to Russia and other countries. It is the world’s largest traitorous political party. It doesn’t care about those territories nor the livelihood of its people. How is it entitled to even talk about “defending sovereignty?”

In 2020, Xi Jinping received a lot of criticism at home and abroad. U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said, “The Party General Secretary Xi Jinping sees himself as Josef Stalin’s successor.” U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said, “General Secretary Xi Jinping is a true believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology.”

On April 29, 2020, Chinese scholar Leng Jiefu, a retired professor from Renmin University, wrote a letter to Wang Yang, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Leng called for Xi’s resignation and to adopt a federal model of government to safeguard national unity regarding Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the ethnic autonomous regions. Leng wrote: “Taiwan’s average annual income is five times that of the mainland, Taiwan’s social welfare ranks second in the world, and mainland social welfare ranks 159 in the world. Are we not ashamed? Politically and economically, Taiwan is more advanced and wealthier than us. … The liberation of Taiwan? On what basis? The extreme leftist’s ignorant ‘liberation of Taiwan’ theory must be stopped!”

An article published in the Chinese news portal Apollo News Network, titled “Xi Jinping in a Cage,” points out Xi’s predicament. It stated that although Xi has the highest power, he is not free. “The Party that has been confining the Chinese people’s thinking and blocking the truth, and also confining Xi Jinping. Xi Jinping’s various policies are based on communist ideology. Communism is not a paradise, but a prison,” the article stated.

If Xi continues to hold on to Marxism-Leninism communist ideology, he may lose the opportunity to build a positive relationship between China and Taiwan.

Wang Youqun graduated with a doctorate in law from the Renmin University of China. He once worked as an aide and copywriter for Wei Jianxing (1931–2015), a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee from 1997 to 2002.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.