China could just take Taiwan by force with its 2.29 million troops and 2,800 aircraft, ending debate about whether the democratic, self-ruled island is part of Chinese territory. But that move would park an enraged, rebellious population just offshore and anger the major countries that back China’s huge economy. China prefers peaceful unification with Taiwan. Problem is, a chain of events, from 24 days of anti-China protests to aspat over Hong Kong, have sent China to Taiwan’s doghouse.
It’s easy to see why the normally careful-spoken Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned “new problems” in relations when he met Taiwan’s delegation to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum Sunday and urged that both sides find ways to solve them. “I think what Beijing is saying is that it is important to impart renewed momentum to the relationship now and not risk going in a counter-productive direction now or in the future,” says Alan Romberg, East Asia Program director at The Stimson Centre, a Washington D.C. think tank.
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