From war towards peace and peace towards war. This is how relations across the Taiwan Strait have evolved over the past 40 years. Efforts to seek peace have instead culminated in a greater threat of war. Beijing’s “Message to compatriots in Taiwan” on January 1, 1979 is seen by many as having ushered in a new era after decades of hostility. The policy statement not only declared an end to Beijing’s routine artillery bombardment of Taipei-controlled islands, it marked a shift in its basic approach to Taiwan – from one of “liberation” (which implies the use of force) to one of “peaceful unification”.
However, a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping on January 2 to mark the 40th anniversary of that message has been widely interpreted as opening the door to an eventual war.