Fudan-European China Forum 2017 successfully held

On 5 May, the Fudan-European Centre for China Studies, together with NIAS, held the second Fudan-European China Forum at Asia House, Copenhagen. This year, the forum focused on cross-strait relations and East Asian peace. A group of leading experts were invited to share their insights and discuss this contemporary issue from a relational and comparative perspective.

In the morning session, the forum started with the welcome remarks from Troels Østergaard Sørensen, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences from the University of Copenhagen. Troels shortly introduced the University and Copenhagen, and then mentioned the growing relations between China and Denmark. He reiterated that, despite the increasing trend of anti-globalization, the University of Copenhagen would further embrace globalization and promote internationalization, and emphasized the role the Fudan Centre  and the University of Copenhagen’s cooperation with Fudan University serves for this purpose. Lastly, Troels also pointed out the importance of the continued discussion of cross-strait relations, especially after election of the Trump administration.

After that, Yan Anlin, vice president from Shanghai Institute of International Studies, presented his observation on the cross-strait relations after Tsai Ing-wen came into power. From his point of view, the recent worsening of cross-strait relations are due to the election of Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan. While admitting that the economic and trade cooperation could lower down the risks of conflicts, he emphasized the fact that no Armistice Agreement has been signed, thus there remains uncertainty for the political tension. Following that, Zhu Weidong, vice director of Institute for Taiwan Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, shared his view on Xi Jinping’s strategy on the unification. He emphasized several important principles from this strategy, such as the 1992 Consensus, the One China-Two Systems Policy, ‘bounded destiny’, the building of national identity, and the enhancing of family relations and companionship. In his view, the Mainland government is in an advantaged position to carry through with unification, which he regards as feasible.

Lastly, Xin Qiang, director of Center for Taiwan Studies from Fudan University, presented his insights into China-US dynamics and its implications for cross-strait relations. He admitted that, without intervention from the US, there would be no Taiwan Issue – i.e. no issue over the political and legal status of Taiwan. Moreover, he believed that the US strategy towards Taiwan is subordinated to its overall global strategy. In general, he argued that the US needs support from the mainland government for the conflict on the Korean peninsula, thus it would rather downplay the Taiwan Issue in the future.

During the afternoon session, Liu Guosheng, dean of Institute for Taiwan Studies from Xiamen University, first shared his new thinking on the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. He suggested that mainland people should not be too frustrated about the coming power of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). On the contrary, people should accept the fact that party alternation has become a new normal in Taiwan. However, he argued that peaceful unification is the best future for both sides, while the 1992 Consensus would be the basis. He suggested that if DPP does not want to accept the 1992 Consensus, it can propose other forms of consensus that could be accepted by the mainland government. Moreover, he also sees the need for scholars, politicians, and the general public, to rethink the concept and the future of unification.

Next came the panel discussion from a more comparative perspective. Stein Tønnesson, research director of Peace Research Institute Oslo, suggested that the Taiwan Issue is the weak point of the Chinese mainland government, and the mainland government should be well prepared for any possibility of Taiwanese independence. Xin Qiang, director of Center for Taiwan Studies from Fudan University, argued that the Taiwan Issue is subordinate to the grand strategy, and the mainland government will strive for the peaceful development and unification. Lars Vargo, ambassador of Sweden to Japan, drew on lessons from the Nordic experience and suggested that East Asia should let history pass, while continuing the communication and dialogue with each other, and strive towards reducing uncertainties. Pavel Baev, senior researcher from Peace Research Institute Oslo, shared his insights of the Russia’s role in East Asia. He thought that while Russia certainly needs Asia, the role is rather ambiguous, and it keeps a low profile in East Asia. Lastly, Zaneta Ozolina, professor from the University of Latvia, presented the Baltic experience of peace-building. She suggested that internationalization of regional issues, institutionalization of regional networks, diversifying of the issues, enhancing people to people mobility, among other things, have all contributed to the Baltic peace.

In the final part of the forum, Stein Tønnesson presented his new book, Explaining the East Asian Peace: A Research Story together with Gerald Jackson, chief editor of the NIAS Press. In this book, Stein argues how the reform and opening of China after 1978 has contributed to regional peace, ending the previous wars and conflicts in Asia.