Taipei : Far from mediating peace, billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s suggestion to defuse tensions between China and Taiwan has highlighted the battle lines that exist between the two neighbors.
Even while China has welcomed Musk’s offer to “work out a pretty tolerable special administrative zone for Taiwan,” Taipei has vehemently rejected it.
Qin Gang, Beijing’s ambassador to the United States, praised Musk for his nonviolent gestures while promoting the idea that Taiwan would be afforded “a significant degree of autonomy” following reunification with China. “I’d like to congratulate @elonmusk for his plea for peace across the Taiwan Strait and his concept of establishing a special administrative zone for Taiwan,” he tweeted.
“Actually, peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems are our essential ideas for settling the Taiwan question and the best strategy to accomplishing national reunification,” the ambassador continued.
Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, on the other hand, chastised Musk for advocating that Taipei give some power to Beijing, claiming that his country’s “freedom and democracy are not for sale.”
“Any lasting solution for our future must be determined peacefully, free of compulsion, and respectful of Taiwan’s democratic wishes,” Hsiao said in a tweet.
Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou also slammed the businessmen’s remarks, saying, “In Musk’s perspective, “one country, two systems”… This is unacceptable to me.”
Days after suggesting a possible compromise to end the Russia-Ukraine war, which prompted condemnation from Ukrainian politicians, Musk indicated that tensions between China and Taiwan could be settled by giving Beijing partial sovereignty over Taiwan.
“My proposal… would be to figure out a somewhat palatable special administrative zone for Taiwan, which probably won’t make everyone happy,” Musk told the Financial Times in an interview.
Beijing, which claims democratically run Taiwan as one of its provinces, has long promised to take control of the island state and has not ruled out using force to do so. Taiwan’s administration firmly opposes China’s claims to sovereignty, claiming that only the island’s 23 million people can decide its fate.
China has offered Taiwan a “one nation, two systems” model of autonomy comparable to Hong Kong’s, but all mainstream political parties in Taiwan have rejected it.
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