Over the decades, China scholars in the United States, Taiwan and China itself have spilled rivers of ink parsing official and unofficial statements from the three countries to assess the direction of cross-Strait relations. Year after year, they compare and contrast every utterance and every article to discern nuance, shaded meanings, perceptible shifts in position, potential meetings of minds, or threats of conflict.
Was Tsai Ing-wen being flexible or obdurate in her inaugural address? Did Xi Jinping’s issue a “stern warning” to Taiwan? Had Wang Yi offered a path to accommodation? Did Li Keqiang brandish trade as an inducement or a threat? Was Sun Yafu seeking compromise or confrontation? How did U.S. officials interpret this or that phrase spoken by one or another official on either side of the Strait? And how did all these recent statements relate to those made last year, or ten years ago, or in 1992?