An Offer They Can’t Refuse
In the game of chess, there’s a concept called “forced mate.” The term refers to one side maneuvering its pieces to guarantee victory in a set number of moves, regardless of what the opponent does.
On Feb. 11, representatives of the Chinese and Taiwanese government met in the mainland Chinese city of Nanjing. Expected to produce few, if any breakthroughs, the symbolism of the event is still great: It is their first formal meeting in 65 years. Since the Nationalists fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, Beijing has viewed the island as a renegade province and has made its “reunification with the motherland” a paramount objective. Tensions have occasionally flared: As recently as the 1990s, China lobbed missiles into the strait between the mainland and Taiwan, Taiwanese politicians threatened to declare independence, and the United States moved two aircraft carrier groups into the region.
Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful and assertive leader in decades, may be keen on resolving the issue once and for all. In October 2013, Xi said the problems caused by the cross-strait issue should not be handed on from generation to generation. “The question is, was Xi shifting away from [his predecessor] Hu Jintao’s policy of patience?” asks Alan D. Romberg, director of the East Asia program at the Stimson Center and a former State Department official.
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