October 20, 2004
CHINA-TAIWAN RELATIONS: CHEN'S 'CHARM OFFENSIVE' IRKS PRC MEDIA
** Dailies advise Beijing not to "turn a blind eye" to President Chen's offer of dialogue.
** Pro-PRC outlets call Chen's "devious" speech "nothing other than world-play."
** Critics say that the "main targets" of Chen's speech were in the U.S., not Taiwan or China.
** Chinese papers find military cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan "very worrisome."
A potential 'basis for cross-straits talks'-- East Asian independent outlets applauded Chen's "latest overtures" to restart negotiations with the mainland. Taiwan's conservative China Post likewise praised Chen's effort to "extend an olive branch to rival Beijing." A few observers downplayed Chen's "vague proposal" as "linguistic gymnastics," but most agreed his "charm offensive" could be a "good beginning" to create a "stable and constructive cross-straits relationship" in light of the "growing tension between China and Taiwan." Hong Kong's mass-circulation Apple Daily urged Beijing to "grasp the opportunity to start to talk to Chen," while the liberal Japan Times concluded that "Beijing should reciprocate" Chen's offer.
Full of 'empty platitudes'-- Mainland media blasted Chen's speech as "another sham" designed to lull China while he "leads Taiwan to independence gradually." The official China Daily alleged that the "slippery politician" Chen had "no sincerity in bettering ties with the mainland," while Hong Kong's popular Sing Pao Daily saw Chen "playing tricks with Beijing." Pro-opposition outlets in Taiwan agreed that "there is no breakthrough in sight" because Chen "circumscribed the fundamental issue between China and Taiwan": Beijing's insistence that there is only one China. Conservative United Daily News concluded that Chen's speech was neither "credible nor feasible"
'Merely for show to please the U.S.'-- Chen critics said that the speech merely sought to give the world, especially the U.S., the "impression that Taiwan--not Beijing--wants peace." Conservative Hong Kong Economic Times also advised Beijing not to take Chen "too seriously," because the speech "was merely a show for U.S. President Bush." Another observer in Hong Kong noted that Washington "noticed Chen's goodwill." Though pro-Chen writers in Taiwan stressed that the speech "earned domestic and international praise," pro-opposition papers dismissed it as an "attempt to curry favor with the U.S." One went so far as to suggest the "move was made at the request of the U.S." to stabilize the cross-straits situation.
'A certain country is conniving in Taiwan's war preparations'-- Another prominent theme in Chinese dailies was concern over U.S. assistance to Taiwan's "urgent expansion of military preparations." Following a Taiwanese official's "talk of firing missiles at Shanghai" in case of a conflict, official Global Times alleged the U.S. has "emboldened the Taiwan authorities to develop offensive military strength." International Herald Leader warned the U.S. that its military aid to Taiwan would prove "harmful for U.S.-China relations"; other writers also criticized Taiwan's "controversial" $18 million arms purchase from the U.S.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 35 reports from 9 political entities over 11 - 19 October 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
CHINA: "Taiwan Secretly Assists The U.S. To Deploy At Shimoji Island"
Wang Haifeng commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (10/18): “The surprising inside story of Taiwan arms purchases was recently exposed. A large part of the Taiwan authorities’ 610.8 billion-yuan arms purchase budget is not for arms, but for secretly assisting the U.S. military to deploy at Shimoji Island. The U.S. favors the small Shimoji Island...because it has a special strategic geographical position.... It is located close to Taiwan...and the U.S. could enhance its connections with its bases in East Asia and increase its dominance of strategic southern waterways. The Taiwan authorities are so rushed to assist the U.S. military to deploy at Shimoji Island because it just wants to use the U.S. to embolden ‘Taiwan independence’ followers.... Taiwan provides money to help the U.S. set up military bases to fight against its own compatriots, and its nature is not just to please the U.S.... This has aroused severe reactions among the island’s people and insightful people.... Meanwhile the increase in U.S.-Taiwan military exchanges is very worrisome."
"U.S. Temporarily Ceases HARM Sales To Taiwan: A Direct Threat To China’s Coastal Radar"
Li Runtian wrote in official International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (10/14): “U.S. officials openly denied the news in the Washington Post that the U.S. Defense Department agreed to sell Taiwan High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM).... The paper reported that...it is believed that the relevant decisions will be made after the Presidential election, and the possibility of agreeing to sell HARM to Taiwan will be ‘relatively higher.’ Experts think that the U.S. Defense Department’s behavior is undoubtedly another breakthrough after the U.S. sold submarines to Taiwan. It traces an increasingly obvious U.S. inclination in regard to the Taiwan Straits issue. It is harmful for U.S.-China relations and the cross-Straits situation.... Complex political factors are behind the U.S.' ambiguous attitude and vague words.... First, the U.S. wants to make use of this arms purchase to force the Taiwan authorities to enhance the promotion of the 610.8 billion yuan arms purchase.... Second, the U.S. Presidential election glows brightly.... The U.S. is cautious about dealing with this sensitive issue at this time.... Third, the arms purchase indeed violated many rules governing U.S.-China relations.... The U.S. has to worry about the social response, international influence and its influence on overall U.S.-China relations.”
"Chen Needs More Sincerity To Solve Issues"
Hai Xia held in the official English-language China Daily (10/14): “The peace overture in Chen Shui-bian's 'Double Ten National Day' speech turned out to be another sham. One of Chen's major announcements, which was considered to be something new in his speech, was his call for Taiwan and the mainland to use the 1992 Hong Kong Meeting as a basis to seek 'not necessarily perfect but acceptable schemes' for furthering cross-Straits talks. This has therefore been viewed by some as an olive branch by Chen. Nevertheless, Chen's suggestion to base future cross-Straits talks on the 1992 meeting was nothing more than word-play.... Chen's other major declaration in his October 10 speech that 'the Republic of China (ROC) is Taiwan, and Taiwan is ROC' further mirrors his baseline of 'Taiwan's independence.' Many wonder whether Taiwan's audience was the main target of Chen's speech. His latest address was once again decorated with empty platitudes.... Chen knows the value of overseas sympathy in his attempts to internationalize his case. He also knows there is no legal grounds for his independence pursuit under the framework of current international law and norms. No valid international law can lend legitimacy to his fantasy of defining Taiwan as a sovereign state independent of China. What most of the overseas audience heard, however, were the very latest, and the most beguiling words of a slippery politician.”
"Chen's Appeal For Talks Nothing But Word Games"
The official English-language China Daily declared (10/13): "Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's suggestion to base future cross-Straits talks on the results of the 1992 Meeting was nothing other than word-play as well as a gesture that aimed to create the illusion that a renewed dialogue was still possible.... Several days before delivering his speech on October 10, Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian invited world attention over his speech which, he hinted, would have positive and constructive implications on and contributions towards the improvement of cross-Straits relations and Sino-US ties as well as world peace. One of Chen's major announcements, which was considered to be something new in his speech, was his suggestion for Taiwan and the mainland to use the 1992 Hong Kong Meeting as a basis to map out a 'less-than-perfect but acceptable plan' as a preparation for further consultation and talks. As we all know, the mainland has hoped that the island administration's stance could return to the 1992 Consensus so that negotiations could resume. Chen's promise to base future talks on the 1992 Meeting has, therefore, given some people hope, and some pundits feel that Chen has at least created some leeway in a relatively ambiguous way. The crucial question is whether Chen's proposal means he is really willing to return to the 1992 Consensus.... The answer is negative.... The Chen administration...has ignored historical facts and consistently denied the existence of the 1992 Consensus.... In his speech on October 10, 2000, Chen proposed to use the '1992 Spirit' as the basis for resumption of talks with the mainland, a suggestion that was naturally rejected by Beijing. Mainstream opinion on the island and those of insight pointed out at that time that Chen was playing with words in order to neutralize the 1992 Consensus and avoid the 'one China' principle, an indication that he had no sincerity in bettering ties with the mainland.... All these points foretell that the possibility of a breakthrough in their cause of Taiwan independence has become increasingly high."
"Taiwan’s Smuggled Weapons Intercepted: Severe Strike To Taiwan Military’s Plan To Develop Counter-Strike Weapons"
Li Runtian commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (10/13): “Not long before was a weapons smuggling activity of the Taiwan authorities resolved. Its secret plan to import assault weapons to the Island has been revealed and this has greatly disturbed Chen Shui-bian’s military independence plan. Taiwan’s ‘military bureau,’ through a European company that it dominates by the name of ‘European Manufacturers,’ made contact with American arms sellers.... The U.S. side finally agreed to do business by ‘mistakenly thinking’ the products wouldn’t enter Taiwan.... Although the smuggling activity ended in failure, Taiwan’s ‘plan to develop counter-strike weapons that could reach Shanghai’ and thus the true face of its urgent expansion of military preparations was exposed completely. The Taiwan authorities tried to smuggle offensive weapons in such an insane manner mainly because its military’s war preparations are so enormous that Taiwan’s production capabilities can not satisfy its needs.... Analysts think that for a certain long period of time into the future, the Taiwan authorities will still drain their efforts to conduct ammunition smuggling activities. The international community should be vigilant. Meanwhile, people should also pay attention to the issue that a certain country is conniving in Taiwan’s war preparations in secret. These countries call for prevention of arms proliferation, but offer connivance and support to the Taiwan military’s activities. This has emboldened the Taiwan authorities to develop offensive military strength.”
"Taiwan Promotes Separation During Holiday: Claiming ‘Goodwill Gesture’, But Still Promoting 'Taiwan Independence'"
Wu Wei and Yu Yang said in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (10/11): "Chen Shuibian has racked his brains with schemes to make use of the ‘October 10’ holiday.... Chen’s speech that day can be summed up in two sentences: both sides of the Straits want peace, and the Island wants stability.... But obviously the Chen Shuibian authorities have done nothing regarding either thing. His speech was trying to fake harmonious stability and cheating the public.... Although superficially Chen did not talk about ‘Taiwan independence’ in his speech, he is speaking the language of ‘independence’ between the words.' From arms purchases to the ‘October 10 holiday’ the Taiwan authorities’ steps toward ‘independence’ have intensified. Analysts think this relates to the U.S. Chen’s think-tank predicts that the US will adopt a ‘suppressive’ policy toward Taiwan from the U.S. Presidential election in November to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference next March. Thus before this period, the Taiwan authorities will step up promoting ‘independence’ to reap benefits and to provoke conflicts between the U.S. and the Mainland.... Chen will continue to promote ‘Taiwan independence without mentioning Taiwan independence'.... ‘Progressive Taiwan independence’ is more devious and merits a higher level of attention.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Olive Branch Must Be Backed By Action"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post opined (10/11): "If Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian is sincere, it could just be the linguistic gymnastics that will get talks with the mainland back on track. There are reasons to be skeptical of Mr Chen's vague proposal, which needs to be followed up quickly with details and other shows of sincerity. But as far as olive branches go, Mr. Chen's address yesterday provided a firmer basis for discussion than his inaugural speech in May. Despite the possibility that Mr. Chen's speech was pure politicking, the latest overtures should not be rejected out of hand. They offer a chance to alter the existing course of cross-strait relations, which is characterized by growing economic interdependence but a growing likelihood of military confrontation. Judging from the hardline comments coming from Beijing in recent months, most recently in reaction to Taiwan's proposal to buy US$18 billion worth of advanced weapons systems from the U.S., it is not clear that the mainland will be sympathetic.... At the least, (Chen's) proposal for talks on direct air links should be taken up immediately by both sides. The mainland has already said that no agreement on the one China principle needs to be in place before such talks can progress. Now that Mr. Chen is signaling the Taiwan side's willingness, and given that the demand for such services is well-established, there is no reason to stall on this front. In shaping the basis for renewed talks, imperfect but acceptable is a standard well worth striving for, especially if the alternative is continued drift towards a regionally destabilising confrontation."
"Bian Puts On A Show; Hard To Cool Cross-straits Temperatures"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao contended (10/12): "The intention behind Chen Shui-bian's speech yesterday appeared good, but Chen insists on defining the cross-straits relationship as between 'Taiwan and China.' This cannot elicit a positive response from Beijing. This time, Chen Shui-bian again put the ball back in Beijing's court, leaving the international community with the impression that Taiwan--not Beijing--wants peace across the Taiwan Straits. If Taiwan indeed wants long-lasting peace, it would be easy to achieve: All it will take is Chen Shui-bian's admission that, per the 1992 Hong Kong agreements, there is only one China. But Chen is determined to promote Taiwanese independence, and he will not compromise.... (His speech) was merely for show to please the U.S."
"Bian Changes Stance To Cater To Bush"
Conservative Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times stated (10/12): "Chen Shui-bian's Double Ten (October 10) speech was neither sincere nor a signal to slow down the process of Taiwan independence. It was merely a show for U.S. President Bush...who wants Taiwan to maintain the status quo, neither independent nor part of China. If Taiwan speeds up its drive for independence and incite Beijing to start a war, the U.S. would be faced with the dilemma of whether to send troops across the Taiwan Straits. Moreover, to attract Beijing's support in the upcoming U.S. election, Bush must have to ask Bian to behave.... It is believed that Beijing will not take Bian's words too seriously. To prevent Taiwanese independence, Beijing mainly depends on the Taiwanese people and the United States, with the latter playing a bigger role. Regardless of whether Bush or Kerry wins the U.S. election, it is critical for Beijing to win support from the U.S. government to stop Chen Shui-bian from leading Taiwan to independence."
"Bian Not Credible; Taiwan's Drive For Independence Unchanged"
Independent, pro-free trade Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal remarked (10/12): "Although the U.S. State Department. praised Bian's new words on cross-straits relations as being 'constructive,' the Taiwanese leader is not accountable, based on his past behavior and political record.... It is very clear that Chen is determined to lead Taiwan to independence gradually. As long as the current stability and peace across the Taiwan Straits can be maintained, Beijing won't take Taiwan by force. On the other hand, the U.S. won't abandon military support to Taiwan. Chen can thus implement a series of anti-China actions to instill the concept of Taiwanese independence. Once the support for this idea becomes the main trend, it will be very difficult for Beijing to take Taiwan by force."
"Grasp Every Opportunity To Promote Cross-straits Talk"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily held (10/12): "Beijing should grasp the opportunity to start to talk to Chen Shui-bian after his Double Ten speech. Although Bian's move was the result of pressure from the U.S., we believe, at least, that Mr. Chen has realized that he has to establish a kind of stable political relationship with Beijing. And, Beijing should not turn a blind eye to him, as long as Mr. Chen is willing to talk with some kind of sincerity."
"Why Not Just Say It--If Chen Really Supports One China"
Chinese-language center-left Sing Tao Daily editorialized (10/12): "Chen Shui-bian's new proposal was vague. It was packaged to win support from the U.S. and Taiwanese voters for the election by the end of the year. Chen's speech technically avoided touching the sensitive issue of 'One-China.' His target audiences were the American and Taiwanese voters, not Beijing."
"Why Didn't Chen Shui-bian Mention The '92 Agreement?"
Chinese-language popular Sing Pao Daily observed (10/12): "Bian was playing tricks with Beijing in his Double Ten (October 10) speech. As the U.S. presidential election campaign is gearing up, Bush is trying to realize US$18 billion worth of weapon sales to Taiwan to show his political merits to the American voters. At the same time, Chen Shui-bian would have to grasp every opportunity to convince Taiwan people that the biggest threat they are facing is from the mainland, and Taiwan must buy military security from the United States. With such an attitude, how can he make Beijing accept his 'sincerity'?"
TAIWAN: "What Have the National Day Fireworks Lit Up?"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News editorialized (10/18): "President Chen's National Day speech seems to have been related to the U.S. in many ways. First, in the beginning, rumors had it that the draft of Chen's speech had been reviewed by Washington before it was delivered; then both Washington and Tokyo responded to Chen's speech immediately, evidently indicating that they were both prepared to do so. Then when his speech failed to get the response from Beijing that was expected, President Chen went so far as to say that 'Washington had told me that Beijing would respond to it this way.' All these signs have made people wonder if Chen's cross-Strait talk was made at the request of the U.S. Some other people also have speculated that Chen was trying to use this speech to alleviate cross-Strait tensions in an attempt to curry favor with the U.S.... In April, Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly did not mind taking all the trouble of writing five paragraphs to elaborate on how both sides of the Taiwan Strait reached a consensus in the 1992 meeting about different interpretations by either side of the 'one China' principle, which also led to the Koo-Wang meetings in 1993 and 1998, respectively.... Such a move shows that Chen referred to the '1992 Hong Kong meeting' in his National Day address because the U.S. government was his planned target audience and that such a move was made at the request of the U.S.... In Washington's eyes, the '1992 Hong Kong meeting' that Chen mentioned in his speech may sound equal to the '1992 consensus' that Washington hoped he would say. But Washington probably has failed to notice the difference between the two terms, or maybe it did not find out that Chen was 'playing with words' until now. As a result, if the National Day speech was a gift by President Chen to the U.S., what could Washington be feeling now--surprise at receiving a gift, or embarrassment at being made fun of for having complimented Chen on the 'constructive' message of his speech?"
"Incrementalism Or Obstructionism"
The pro-independence, English-language Taiwan News commented (10/18): "By issuing another expression of goodwill to the other side, President Chen earned domestic and international praise. The first and direct benefit will be felt in the DPP's legislative election campaign, thanks to its rising capability to build up an image of a moderate and progressive governing force in Taiwan that can secure wider support from middle of the road voters. Even without a positive response from Beijing, Chen and his party has skillfully drawn support from both domestic and external audiences and affirmation on both fronts will in turn be helpful to the DPP's campaign.... In either case, the key priority for Taiwan's leadership is to minimize the chance of any severe crises or military confrontations [across the Taiwan Strait]. International influence, particularly from the U.S. and Japan and other great powers, should play a more significant role in both mediation and monitoring the maintenance of peace. A framework of peace is essentially needed to craft a stable and constructive cross-strait relationship. Only through talks and exchanges of different views can a predictable and institutionalized framework for cross-strait interaction be advanced."
"Can Chen's Gesture Be Turned Into Real Policy?"
Ku Er-teh noted in the pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times (10/18): "Chen certainly shoed goodwill in his [National Day] address, although to what degree he was sincere is a little more difficult to fathom. Can this goodwill be translated into actual policy? Some would say the most important thing is how the Chinese will respond to it, but even more important is whether or not Chen's team prepare their own contingency plan prior to implementing any such policy. It turns out that the Executive Yuan, the Ministry of National Defense, and even the Presidential Office had no idea what Chen was going to say in his address. Based on this, it seems that his words were simply intended to communicate his good intentions, but for what purpose? I'm afraid that the consequences of Chen's words might not have been thought through. But at least the Americans noticed Chen's goodwill."
"A High-profile Olive Branch, Short Of A Vital Incentive"
The conservative, English-language China Post maintained (10/14): "Few would disagree that President Chen Shui-bian is No. 1 when it comes to making issues. With the crucial legislative election less than two months away, the president on Sunday used the National Day occasion to extend an olive branch to rival Beijing by proposing the resumption of talks, a topic which can always provoke wide public attention. Chen...suggested that the two sides use the '1992 meeting in Hong Kong as the basis' for the restart of dialogue and consultation. He proposed discussing a number of important measures to reduce tension and hostility between Taiwan and the mainland.... Unsurprisingly, his talk immediately earned him a great deal of publicity as his National Day speech grabbed front-page headlines.... Chen's cross-strait relations talks also won acclaim from the international community. The U.S. State Department welcomed Chen's address.... Taipei's wish may prove to be unrealistic. By invoking the 1992 meeting, Chen clearly hoped that the two sides will follow that model and put aside thorny sovereignty disputes.... But Chen intentionally ignored a more fundamental part of that meeting. Taipei and Beijing delegations to the Hong Kong discussions at the time reached a crucial tacit consensus on the issue of national identity. That is, Taipei and Beijing, although disagreeing with each other over the meaning of 'one China,' both insist on the 'one China' principle. It was this landmark bilateral consensus that had made it possible for the two rivals to launch semi-official contacts.... That Chen deliberately ignored this essential part of the Hong Kong meeting was obviously because he wanted to dodge the 'one China' issue.... But that is a matter Beijing cares about most. It insists that Chen must first accept the 'one China' principle before any cross-strait talks can be held. So it would not be surprising if Beijing responds negatively to Chen's call for talks.... But even so, Chen still could come out of the latest bilateral encounter on the air as the winner. First, a persistent reluctance to talk with Taipei would make Beijing appear as intransigent.... On the other hand, if Chen should fail to get Beijing to the negotiating table he would still succeed in achieving the publicity for his renewed efforts to reduce hostilities across the Taiwan Strait."
"The One China Myth Is The Source of Sadness For The Taiwan People"
Pro-independence Liberty Times asserted (10/14): "Today, China has made it very clear that only by sticking to the one China principle can both sides resume talks. The one China principle is a synonym for 'annexing Taiwan.' Therefore the Pan-Blue politicians in Taiwan should cut off their links with the one-China principle, identify with Taiwan and accept democracy, or they will only bring Taiwan towards the tragic ending of war. Taiwan's elected leader should also stop wasting his effort in dealing with China meaninglessly. The only right way is to assert Taiwan's identity and seek a way out for the 23 million people."
"Clinging To The Wrong Phrase"
Lee Fu-cheng held in the pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times (10/14): "Since former president Lee Teng-hui declared his 'special state-to-state' policy in 1999, no matter under which political regime, the people of Taiwan in principle have not recognized the '1992 consensus,' where both sides of the Taiwan Strait agreed on as much as they could on the formula of 'one China, with each side having its own interpretation'.... Contextually speaking the stance of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is firm that both sides of the Taiwan Strait have never come to terms with 'one China'.... The Chinese, however, cling to the phrase 'one China' and generally ignore all other ambiguities.... China's uncompromising stance on its international affairs is obvious to all; it believes that the government of the PRC is the sole government representing China, and no other interpretation by Taiwan is allowed.... Beijing has for years insisted that a cross-strait agreement on the meaning of "one China" was reached at the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong; in other words, China is accusing Taiwan of refusing to admit that it has changed its mind.... In fact, the meeting's main purpose was to reach agreements on the issues of cross-strait certified mail and professional certification.... Chen, in his Double Ten National Day speech, mentioned his willingness to 'use the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong' to reopen a channel for a cross-strait dialogue.... Whether Beijing will decide to respond to Chen's speech may be a crucial factor shaping cross-strait relations. If China responds by expressing its good will, formal talks between the DPP government and China will be feasible. On the contrary, if Beijing continues its indifferent attitude, Chen's China policies during his next four years of administration will be futile."
"Chen Uses The U.S."
Lo Chia-wei maintained in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (10/14): "President Chen, in response to China's Taiwan Affairs Office's remarks, said 'the U.S. has told us to be patient.' Chen's words have offered a good beginning for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to 'put aside their disputes.' There may be a chance for improvements in the cross-Strait situation next spring if Taiwan's goodwill gestures can last beyond the legislative elections and Beijing can act in a softer manner."
"To Concentrate Taiwan People's 'General Will.'"
DPP Legislator Shen Fu-hsiung opined in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (10/14): "It is not unexpected that China's Taiwan Affairs Office would harshly criticize President Chen's National Day speech. On the surface, it seems that negotiations and reconciliation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are in the indefinite future. But for Taiwan, now is the best chance for us to work out a consensus among ourselves.... Even though Chen's speech has failed to win a goodwill response from Beijing, it still has indicative significance in coordinating the disputes inside Taiwan regarding unification and independence. The president has maximized the possible forms for the future development of cross-Strait relations--namely, except for Taiwan independence, there are other options like forming a federation, confederation, commonwealth, or even a unified one-China framework. All of these can cover the majority views held by the Taiwan people. Chen's move proves that he has broken the blockade of the fundamentalists regarding cross-Strait issues and has returned to the pragmatic central route."
"Taiwan, Mainland On A Collision Course"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post contended (10/14): "By offering to use the 1992 meeting instead of the 1992 consensus as the model for resumed talks, President Chen was in fact denying there was such a consensus. The 'one China principle,' which implies that both Taiwan and the mainland are apart of China, was the basis for cross-Strait talks. The Chen administration has been unwilling to acknowledge that there was any such consensus because it runs counter to the ruling party's pro-independence stance. The present predicament makes the prospects for cross-strait peace rather dim. The ruling DPP and its allies are determined to bring Taiwan independence to reality. Even some political opponents of the 'green' camp, believing that this can win them more grassroot support, tend to support the independence campaign. The trend is putting Taiwan and the mainland on a collision course. Beijing will by no means tolerate the declaration of statehood by the Taipei government. It will do everything possible, including the use of military force, to thwart the movement of Taiwan toward independence. Tension in the Taiwan Strait will in all likelihood rise further as the independence advocates aggressively push for the accomplishment of their goal and the Beijing government make intense efforts to stop them. The future of Taiwan has become highly unpredictable, with the possibility of the outbreak of war growing steadily."
"China's Taiwan Affairs Office Fails To Accommodate President Chen Shui-bian's Soft Landing"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News declared (10/14): "Judged from various angles, the statements issued by China's Taiwan Affairs Office's Wednesday were already tantamount to a political showdown. Beijing seems to say that unless President Chen acknowledges the 'one China' principle and thus establishes a political premise, it would be meaningless to discuss any future issues concerning both sides, including the three links, direct charter flights and other interactions across the Taiwan Strait--meaning that the door would be closed for any cross-Strait discussions. President Chen's reference to the '1992 Hong Kong meeting as the basis' [for re-opening cross-Strait talks] shows that he is also clearly aware that the '1992 consensus' is the key to resuming cross-Strait interaction and that he hopes Beijing could accept his 'synonym' to improve on the impasse caused by 'one China.' But Beijing has refused to accept Chen's attempt to use '1992 Hong Kong meeting' to replace the '1992 consensus' in exchange for a 'soft landing.' Beijing even made a tighter definition [of the '1992 meeting'] and directly called Chen 'deceptive.' For Beijing, the three direct links and charter flights are no longer its priorities now, and the 'one China' has become a political premise that allows no [other]."
"Practical Solutions The Best Option"
Chen Mu-min wrote in the English-language pro-independence Taipei Times (10/13): "Recent controversies over Premier Yu Shyi-kun's use of the phrase 'balance of terror' to counter China's military threats...have stirred much criticism.... The more rudimentary cause...is Taiwan's inability to change the status quo under China's long-term suppression. Strictly speaking, the government has exerted its utmost effort in grappling with foreign relations, and its main purpose is to ensure Taiwan's self-awareness in the hope that China and the international community will eventually recognize Taiwan's existence. The greatest risk in this strategy is that, given the difficulties in making Taiwan's voice heard in China and the international society, Taiwan itself is held responsible for the consequences of provoking cross-strait tension.... From a military point of view, cross-strait relations currently are obviously tenser than four years ago.... Struggling for survival under the shadow of China is Taiwan's fate. Expanding cross-strait economic relations in recent years has not alleviated cross-strait hostility. On the contrary it has made them worse. Without basic mutual trust between both sides of the Taiwan Strait, many cross-strait policy makers' predict that a cross-strait war will eventually take place. Along with increased military deployments--both qualitatively and quantitatively--and rising Chinese nationalism, a cross-strait war becomes increasingly likely.... Our efforts have not gained much recognition in the international community.... The collision between Taiwan's insistence on maintaining its self-awareness and the international reality has resulted in the gradual depletion of political and economic resources.... Viewed from Taiwan's perspective, there are three possible directions in which cross-strait relations can develop. First, Chinese leaders may gradually begin to feel that long-term suppression can't solve cross-strait tension.... Second, the cross-strait enmity is becoming more intense as the arms race escalates. Chinese leaders, under great internal pressure, could decide to use military power to solve the Taiwan issue.... The third and most likely scenario is that China continues to suppress Taiwan.... The biggest challenge to the current leaders in Taiwan is how to construct a new strategic plan to peacefully coexist with China without giving up Taiwan's self-awareness. Since Taiwan does not have enough strength to fight China, stubbornly advocating policies to counterattack China not only fails to win international support, but also runs counter to the mainstream international idea of engaging with China in order to change its regime fundamentally. Taking care of Taiwan's self awareness while coexisting with China is the only way to resolve Taiwan's diplomatic and military dilemma."
"President Chen's National Day Address"
The conservative pro-unification English-language China Post editorialized (10/12): "President Chen Shui-bian was his usual self as he addressed the nation on Double Ten Day yesterday. Despite hints that he would broach a breakthrough in Taipei-Beijing relations, the president circumscribed the fundamental issue between Taiwan and China again, mouthing only he would now accept what has come to be known as 'the consensus of 1992.' The unsigned agreement, which paved the way for two top proxies of Taipei and Beijing to meet in Singapore a year later, is part of the sine qua non China has set to start dialogue with Taiwan. The other part, practically the only bone of contention, is for Taipei to accept the 'one China' principle. Chen made no mention of that principle. As a result, whatever else the president said in his address means nothing to Chinese leaders who at one time seemed eager to resume the dialogue suspended a couple of years before Chen was first elected in 2000.... There is no breakthrough in sight. And the president, a master of hocus-pocus, referred to the tacit agreement not as the commonly accepted consensus of 1992 but 'the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong'.... But none would be possible without Beijing assured first that he honestly accepts the 'one China' principle. Of course, he is not going to give the Chinese that assurance. And that's that. As a matter of fact, the president's National Day address had only one aim to attain. It is a pep talk to get his Democratic Progressive Party to win a parliamentary majority in the Legislative Yuan election scheduled for December 11."
"A Basis For Talks"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times maintained (10/11): "The speech could in theory serve as a basis for cross-strait talks.... But if Beijing still insists that Taipei must first of all 'recognise the one-China policy'...and sees the above as a 'pre-condition' for resuming cross-strait talks, then there will probably be no breakthrough."
"Lack Of Trust"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News asked (10/11): "Does President Chen have enough personal credibility to make his cross-strait remarks credible and feasible?"
Pro-independence Taiwan Daily commented (10/11): "The president's speech showed a desire for peace and reconciliation.... The speech...deserves to be carefully considered and valued by the leaders of the other side."
JAPAN: "China-Taiwan Dialogue: Hoping For A Broader Viewpoint From China"
Conservative Sankei held (10/18): "Not just China and Taiwan, but also the U.S. and Japan, are actively involved in proposals and bargaining regarding the resumption of dialogue between China and Taiwan following a five-year period of no contact. We urge both sides to embark on the path of reopening dialogue...in order to improve the entire region's security, stability and prosperity in the coming years. This latest move began when Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian...again called upon China to reopen dialogue. President Chen...offered preparations to resume dialogue. In response, China on Oct. 13th...rejected the offer, saying in bilateral talks with Japan that the proposal had zero value.... Since President Chen took office in 2000, he has repeatedly called for dialogue, but the Chinese side, viewing Chen as a member of the pro-independence faction, has rejected every offer until and unless Chen accepts the precondition that there is only one China. During the age when the ruling Kuomindang party embraced the fiction that all China, including the mainland, was part of the Chinese republic, both sides were able to accept differing definitions of 'one China,' but since the election of former President Lee Teng-hui, who tossed out that fiction, it is very difficult to accept unconditionally that definition. Also, it is almost impossible for Chen, whose Democratic Party defeated the Kuomindang, to accept that condition, and over 80 percent of Taiwanese oppose China's newest offer to allow Taiwan to unify with China under the 'one country, two systems' framework. As long as Taiwan is a democracy, the fact is that no president can dictatorially accept a 'one China' condition. As far as President Chen's offer is concerned, both the U.S. and Japan welcomed it in an unprecedented manner.... It also cannot be denied that Chen might have thought to bolster his party's chances in the upcoming end-of-year legislative elections. However, any dialogue between the two sides would...improve peace and security in the Taiwan Straits.... China should make a decision based on a larger-scale, less narrow-minded viewpoint."
"A Peace Overture From Taiwan"
The liberal English-language Japan Times editorialized (10/14): "Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian last weekend bid to improve relations with China.... Chen called on Beijing to resume long-stalled talks and help build confidence and lower tension across the Taiwan Strait. Critically, he seems willing to resume talks on the basis of the 'one China' principle, which has been the foundation of Beijing's approach to Taiwan. Suspicions toward Mr. Chen persist in China, but the best way to address them is to test the president to see whether he is, in fact, willing to build a bridge across the troubled strait. China is unlikely to make that move. Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been especially contentious since Mr. Chen took office in 2000.... The new president touted a Taiwanese national identity and worked to win more international recognition for Taiwan. China continued to insist that any discussions with Taiwan could begin only when Taipei accepted the 'one China' principle.... Chen refused and the stalemate endured.... Cognizant of the rising tensions in the strait and under increasing pressure from other governments that believe Mr. Chen deserves much of the blame for the worsening situation, the president in his National Day speech said he was willing to resume discussions on the basis of the 1992 'one China' agreement.... Chen's willingness to return to the 1992 fudge is to be applauded, although Beijing is unlikely to reciprocate--at least not yet.... In the zero-sum calculus that rules cross-strait relations, Mr. Chen's speech seems to signal that he is on the defensive. So, rather than encourage compromise, Beijing may demand more. That would be a mistake. Mr. Chen's political position is the result of important changes within Taiwan. He represents the rising aspirations of an indigenous Taiwanese political identity.... The smart policy is not to try to wait out Mr. Chen--since Taiwanese sentiment is only growing--but to co-opt his supporters. Beijing must try to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese people. A political dialogue with Taipei would be an important step in that process. Mr. Chen has offered the mainland a way to begin those talks; Beijing should reciprocate."
BRITAIN: "Taiwan’s Peace Offer Should Not Be Lightly Dismissed"
An editorial in the independent Financial Times read (10/12): "[B]oth sides must work hard if Mr. Chen’s charm offensive is to produce results. Mr. Chen needs to rein in his advisers, ministers and supporters and stop them making provocative comments that assert Taiwanese independence or are hostile to Beijing. Chinese leaders, on the other hand, need to accept that the democratically elected Mr. Chen has limited room for manoeuvre. Supporters of independence have already started to accuse him of betraying his principles.”
FRANCE: "France’s Chinese Contradictions"
Jean-Pierre Cabestan wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/13): “In spite of comments about Cirac’s successful trip to China, we must wonder about the incoherence of our Chinese policy.... One contradiction lies in Chirac’s desire to lift the arms embargo, while he does not see the relationship between the embargo and the growing tension between China and Taiwan.... It is because of this tension that Washington instituted the embargo...and re-enforced its military commitment to Taiwan. Under these circumstances, can France and Europe lift the embargo without once again endangering the transatlantic relationship? Should Europe bury its head in the sand when it comes to the tension in this region? Such an attitude would put Europe’s military industry in a difficult position because of its close relationship with America’s military industry, which is both a competitor and a partner. It is to China’s advantage to play the U.S. and Europe against each other. But must Europe, and France, play into China’s hands? On the contrary we must play up the West’s unity...in order to ease military tension in the region and urge China towards more democracy. Because we cannot forget the nature of China’s regime.... It appears that both Europe and France have forgotten their history.... It was thanks to American pressure, not European pressure, that China liberated most of its dissidents. This last point should teach us more modesty when it comes to speaking about the excellent relations we have with China and the importance of Europe for China: because for Beijing, the keys to most of its international problems lie in Washington, not in Paris or in Brussels.”
UAE: "Another Troublespot"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej Times opined (10/18): "After North Korea and South Korea, is it the turn of Taiwan to harbour nuclear ambitions? Earlier this week reports, attributed to IAEA inspectors, talked of Taiwan having pursued a nuclear weapons programme until mid 1980s.... Naturally, there is alarm in Washington. But if Taiwan has dabbled with nuclear technology, it should come as no surprise. The tiny nation has been living in constant fear of being attacked and run over by the mainland China.... The fact that China continues to consider Taiwan as part of China and from time to time makes its designs on the ‘renegade’ island public does not help the troubled relationship between Beijing and Taipei. Little wonder then Taiwan, despite being one of the most prosperous nations in the region and the so-called Asian economic Tiger, feels ever squeezed and squashed by the giant. Whatever the reality behind Taipei’s nuclear ambitions, the very fact that it is thinking in terms of acquiring nuclear arms, should be a source of concern to the international community. This underscores the dangers of allowing explosive issues like the China-Taiwan dispute to hang around for far too long. Taiwan obviously thinks it cannot depend on the U.S. forever to protect it against the Chinese dragon. The Taiwan Straits is one of the most dangerous trouble spots of our time. The world must persuade China and Taiwan to strive for a negotiated settlement of the issue."
INDIA: "Left To Its Own Devices"
An editorial in the centrist Kolkatta-based Telegraph read (10/18): "The rhetoric had been getting harsher...as Taiwan's leaders stoked popular fears of Communist China's intentions in an attempt to push through a controversial Dols. 18 billion arms purchase from the U.S.... China reacted with fury to the suggestion that Taiwan might make a retaliatory strike against cities on the mainland. The U.S...made virtually no response to China's threats, but many countries in the region had been warning Taiwan...that if it got into a shooting war with China, it was on its own.... When Taiwan and China first opened direct talks...the Nationalist Party...had no objection to negotiating on the basis that there might be two rival regimes at the moment, but there was only 'one China'. The Nationalists had retreated to Taiwan after losing China's civil war but they were as determined as the Communists that the motherland must eventually be reunited.... As China's economy grows, its importance to its trading partners, including the U.S., makes them ever more reluctant to confront Beijing over Taiwan, and the Iraq quagmire makes Washington doubly reluctant to contemplate further military commitments in East Asia.... The more level-headed elements in the DPP never really believed that an independent and internationally recognized Taiwan was a possibility; now they will have to stop pretending to the voters that it is possible. The best they can hope for is a prolongation of the status quo until, some day, China becomes a democracy and reunification becomes a more palatable prospect."
UGANDA: "Taiwan's Cold Shower"
The state-owned New Vision declared (10/19): "The rhetoric had been getting harsher for months, as Taiwan’s leaders stoked popular fears of Communist China’s intentions in an attempt to push through a controversial $18 billion arms purchase from the U.S. It reached a peak on September 30, when President Chen Sui-bian warned that the People’s Liberation Army now has 610 ballistic missiles aimed at the island, with the number forecast to 800 by next year--enough to wipe out most of Taiwan’s defences in a few hours. Prime Minister Yu Shyi-kun went further, calling for Taiwan to develop its own offensive missiles to deter a Communist attack.... Blood-curdling stuff, even if none of the warheads on those missiles would be nuclear.... The People’s Republic reacted with fury to the suggestion that Taiwan might make a retaliatory strike against cities on the mainland.... The U.S., preoccupied with Iraq and the elections, made virtually no response to China’s threats, but various countries in the region had been warning Taiwan for months that if it got into a shooting war with China, it was on its own.... By late September the message was starting to get through. The Taiwan defence ministry back-pedalled rapidly on Prime Minister Yu’s talk of firing missiles at Shanghai, denying any intention of creating a 'balance of terror' with the mainland. And then, on 10 October, Taiwan’s National Day, President Chen Shui-bian, went into reverse on all fronts."
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