Is there gonna be war in the Taiwan Strait? A first-person Xinhua dispatch from Taipei

No war-mongering, but how the mainland sees the clouds over the Taiwan Strait in 2020

Today’s issue of the newsletter is a full translation of a Sunday, January 3, Xinhua dispatch from Taipei, entitled “何时回”与“打不打”——新华社在台记者遭遇的“年度之问” (CHN) When will you come back and whether there will war — questions posed to a Taiwan-based Xinhua correspondent in the year 2020.

As long-time subscribers to Pekingnology know, this newsletter rarely dedicates an entire piece to translating a single article. But the issue of Taiwan is of such importance and the dispatch, in the view of your Pekingnologist, is written in such an unadorned tone, that it deserves a full translation.

Despite the eye-catching headline, especially the 打不打 whether there will be war part, the dispatch does NOT engage in war-mongering. In fact, the last paragraphs of the dispatch, which conventionally sets the ending tone of an article, are strikingly measured, upon a sense of what might or should be viewed as confidence and even optimism originating from a deeply-convinced look at the trend of history and the future.

Needless to say, many subscribers to Pekingnology apparently have markedly different opinions on Beijing’s stance towards Taipei. This is a newsletter for adults and the subscribers are treated like adults here, so your Pekingnologist has no illusion of changing anybody’s views overnight. What he hopes is for readers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the mainland sees the clouds over the Taiwan Strait in 2020 - something that’s not often covered in detailed English.

Again, allow your Pekingnologist to stress this newsletter is PERSONAL, that all views are his own, and that translating this published Chinese-language piece to English and putting it here is his own decision without consultation with anybody else.

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新华社台北1月3日电(记者吴济海)

By Wu Jihai of Xinhua News Agency, from Taipei, on January 3rd

2020年,我始料未及地在台湾驻点工作了整整一年。留台日久,我和驻台同事越来越频繁地被问及两个问题。

In 2020, I was unexpectedly stationed in Taiwan for a full year. As I stayed in Taiwan for a long(er) time, my Taiwan-based colleagues and I were asked two questions more and more frequently.

与大陆亲友隔海交流时,被问到最多的就是:什么时候回?

When communicating with friends and family across the sea, the question we were asked most often was: when will you go back?

君问归期未有期。我的回答都是:回不去。

“To the question of a return date, there was none.” My answer was always: I couldn’t go back.

为何回不去?表面是受新冠肺炎疫情影响,其实是民进党当局以疫情为借口,阻挠限制包括新闻交流在内的两岸正常往来。

Why couldn’t I go back? On the surface, it was because of the coronavirus pandemic; in fact, the DPP authorities have been using the pandemic as an excuse to obstruct and restrict normal cross-strait exchanges, including the exchanges of the members of the press.

2020年2月初,台方以疫情为由宣布自2月6日起禁止大陆籍人员入境,导致本应于当月下旬“接棒”的下批驻点记者无法赴台。原本每次在台驻点采访连续停留不得超过3个月,现在被迫一再延期,迄今已逾13个月。

In early February 2020, the Taiwan authorities announced a ban on the entry of mainlanders from Feb. 6 on the grounds of the pandemic, which prevented the arrival in Taiwan of the next batch of correspondents who were supposed to take over later that month. Originally, the stay in Taiwan was limited to 3 months, but now it has been extended repeatedly to more than 13 months.

如果说台方起初出台禁令是基于防疫考量,尚可自圆其说,那么,大陆疫情防控早已取得重大成果,经济社会运行逐渐恢复常态,民进党当局至今仍不开放大陆专业人员入境,则显然是出于政治算计。

If the initial ban was based on the considerations of preventing the pandemic, which had its justifications, then that the DPP authorities, to this day, still not opening up the entry of mainland professionals, is clearly due to political calculations, as the prevention and control of the pandemic on the mainland has long achieved significant results, and economic and social operations have gradually returned to normal.

其实,2020年初至岁末,除“独禁”大陆外,台湾方面并无禁止其他任何国家和地区专业人员入台交流。如此赤裸裸的“双重标准”不断受到岛内舆论挞伐,但民进党当局却始终置若罔闻,不为所动。

In fact, from the beginning of 2020 to the end of the year, except to the sole ban on the mainland, the Taiwan authorities did not ban professionals from any other countries or regions. Such a naked "double standard" was repeatedly attacked by media on the island, but the DPP authorities have always turned a deaf ear and remained unmoved.

政治算计远不止阻碍两岸专业交流这一桩。一年来,禁止口罩出口大陆、禁止两岸婚姻家庭孩童回台、禁止陆生返校、查禁讲述大陆抗疫的儿童绘本、排拒大陆疫苗……凡此种种,族繁不及备载。用“反中”意识形态作祟评价之,当属客观公允。

Political calculations are far from just obstructing cross-strait professional exchanges. In the past year, banning the export of masks to the mainland, banning children from cross-strait marriages from returning to Taiwan, banning mainland students from returning to school (in Taiwan), censoring children's picture books about the mainland's fight against the pandemic, rejecting vaccines from the mainland ...... these kinds of tricks are numerous. That they are driven by the "anti-China" ideology is an objective and fair assessment.

大陆亲友不断询问归期,除了思念,还有一份牵挂与担忧。“注意安全”是过去这一年我收到来自长辈、亲友、同事最多的叮咛。

The mainland family and friends constantly asked about our return date. In addition to missing us, they had concerns and worries. "Be safe" is the most frequent advice I received from my elders, relatives, friends, and colleagues this past year.

常被问到的第二个问题,主要来自台湾同胞:你觉得两岸会打起来吗?

The second question often asked, mainly from Taiwan compatriots: do you think the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will go to war?

提出这个宏观而重大问题的,有相识多年的台湾朋友,有见面不足半小时的台湾同行,还有路边食肆老板。有人甚至开玩笑说,你们“撤回”大陆前告知一声,我们也好买机票撤离。

Among those who raised this big and major issue, were Taiwanese friends of many years, Taiwanese counterparts who had met us for less than half an hour, and roadside restaurant owners. Some even joked: you should tell us before you "withdraw" to the mainland so that we could buy plane tickets to evacuate in time.

他们的发问,一开始让我措手不及,不知如何作答。被问的次数多了,我的回答多半是“这得看台湾”。

Their questions caught me off guard at first, and I didn't know how to answer. After being asked more often, my answer was mostly "it depends on Taiwan."

两岸之间发生冲突,要看可能引发冲突的根源。

Whether there will be a conflict between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, (people) need to look at the root cause for possible conflicts.

从抹黑攻击大陆到“倚美抗中”,从打压岛内从事两岸交流的团体和人士到频频向美军购,从插手香港事务到各种意图“修宪”“正名”闹剧,民进党当局和“独派”势力这一年的“反中”冲撞言行,持续加剧着台海紧张动荡。岛内有专家认为,2020年是过去40年来两岸关系最严峻的一年。

From smearing and attacking the mainland, to "leaning on the United States against China," from suppressing groups and people within the island engaged in cross-strait exchanges, to frequent military purchases from the U.S., from meddling in Hong Kong affairs to various fiascos intended to "amend the constitution" and "correct its name," the "anti-China" rhetoric and reckless actions of the DPP authorities and "pro-independence" forces this year have continued to exacerbate tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Some experts on the island believe that 2020 is the most severe year for cross-strait relations in the past 40 years.

也因此,台湾百姓愈加担心民进党当局的莽撞行为引来两岸“擦枪走火”,以至于9月份岛内某地凌晨突然出现密集闪电雷鸣时,不少网友惊呼“以为解放军打过来了”,赶紧上网发文询问。据台湾媒体报道,10月,台湾南部有公务人员用餐闲聊时谈起:“中共哪天真打过来怎么办?”有在场者回答:“那就投降啊!”结果闲聊人员被上级部门约谈。消息曝光引发民意反弹后,相关人员称,约谈不是要惩处,而是“提醒他们”。

Therefore, the people of Taiwan were increasingly worried that the reckless behavior of the DPP authorities will lead to "accidental gunfire" across the Taiwan Strait, so much so that in the early morning hours of one September day, when there was suddenly intensive lightning and thunder in one part of the island, many netizens exclaimed "I thought the People's Liberation Army was coming" and rushed to post questions online. According to Taiwanese media reports, in October, public officials in southern Taiwan chatted over dinner about "what if the Communist Party of China really comes over one day?" One of those present replied, "Then we'll surrender!" Later, the gossipers were interviewed by higher authorities. When the news came to light and sparked a public backlash, people from relevant authorities involved said that the interview was not to punish them, but to "remind them."

在“提醒”别人之前,民进党当局其实应反躬自问:对比前些年两岸交流合作的荣景,民进党对台湾民众承诺的“维持现状”为何已成明日黄花?这一年为何让人们如同惊弓之鸟?

Before "reminding" others, the DPP authorities should actually ask themselves: compared to the prosperous situations of cross-strait exchanges and cooperation in previous years, why has the DPP's promise to the people of Taiwan to "maintain the status quo" are in vain? Why has this year made people like birds startled by the mere twang of a bow-string?

降低民众对安全的担忧,当是负责任执政者的应有作为。台湾民众对于“两岸会不会打”的忧虑,值得民进党执政者三思。

Reducing people's concern for security should be the responsible actions of a responsible authority. Taiwan people's worries about "whether the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will go to war" are worth thinking thrice for the DPP authorities.

这一年,岛内关心两岸关系走向的人们反复呼吁民进党不要充当美国“反中”马前卒,应尽快回到两岸关系和平发展正轨,用不同方式表达对“两岸关系回不去”的深切忧虑。

This year, people on the island concerned about the direction of cross-strait relations repeatedly called on the Democratic Progressive Party not to act as the "anti-China" pawn of the U.S., that the DPP should return to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations as soon as possible, and expressed in different ways deep concerns that"cross-strait relations could/might not go back."

作为长年跑“两岸线”的记者,我们对当下的两岸关系自然也不免忧心。这一年身在岛内,我们时常安慰台湾朋友:向前看。

As journalists who have been devoted to cross-strait relations for years, we are naturally worried about the current cross-strait relations. This year on the island, we often comforted our Taiwanese friends: look ahead.

“沉舟侧畔千帆过,病树前头万木春。”世间万物从来“回不去”,只会向前走,两岸关系亦然。几十年来两岸关系跌宕起伏、几经风雨,2020年或许有些特殊,但仍只是历史大坐标系上的一个点。时代大潮浩荡向前,一时乱流逆流终将成为泡沫。

"A thousand sails pass by the wrecked ship, and 10,000 saplings shoot up beyond the withered tree." Everything in the world "could not go back", will only go forward, and cross-strait relations are also the same. Cross-strait relations experienced ups and downs over the past decades, through winds and rains multiple times. The year 2020 may be somewhat special but is still only one point in the coordinate system in history. The tide of the times is swelling forward, a moment of turbulence against the current will eventually break like a bubble.

“不畏浮云遮望眼,自缘身在最高层。”两岸关系走向的大势无比清晰。没有一个冬天不可逾越,没有一个春天不会到来。在对未来更美好生活和中华民族伟大复兴的共同追求中,两岸同胞定会共享属于全体中国人的繁华、尊严与荣耀。(完)

"I have no fear that floating clouds may blur my eyes, For on the peak am I." The general trend of cross-strait relations is indisputably clear. There is no winter that will not pass and no spring that will not come. In the common pursuit of a better life in the future and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will surely share the prosperity, dignity, and glory that belong to all Chinese people. Enditem