December 27, 2004
TAIWAN VOTE 'DEFUSED A BOMB'; SECESSION LAW REFLECTS 'LINGERING' CRISIS
** The vote shows that a "majority of Taiwanese want to maintain the political status quo."
** U.S. "disapproval of [President] Chen's pro-independence policy" helped the opposition.
** Chinese dailies hail Beijing's anti-secession law as a "strong reminder" to Taiwan.
** The election results "should slow momentum towards confrontation."
'Mainstream public opinion' favors 'peace and stability'-- Pro-Beijing dailies concluded that the "unexpected defeat" of Chen's coalition "sent out a strong signal" that "'Taiwan independence' did not earn people's support." The official China Daily said the result "fully demonstrates the unpopularity of [Chen's] obstinate separatist stance." Elsewhere, dailies praised the "shrewd judgment" of voters in "Taiwan's vigorous, fledgling democracy" who displayed a "preference for political stability." Taiwanese papers split along partisan lines: Chen critics blamed his "provocative rhetoric" for his loss, while pro-independence outlets insisted that the distinct "'Taiwan consciousness' is not going to go away."
The U.S.' 'veiled warnings' influenced the election-- Writers held that "U.S. concern about [Chen's] hasty campaign for sovereignty" helped persuade voters to back the status quo. Taiwan's centrist China Times noted that Beijing believes that "the most effective way to block Taiwan's independence is have the U.S. constrain Taiwan." Pro-independence Taiwan outlets chided the U.S. for acting against its "better, strategic interests" and being "hopelessly manipulated by Beijing." Other papers took Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage's "unprecedently frank" remarks calling Taiwan a "landmine" in Sino-U.S. relations as proof that the U.S. is "apparently displeased by Chen's independence agenda."
'Safeguarding China's territorial...integrity'-- Regional dailies agreed that China's new anti-secession law is "particularly targeted at Taiwan." Hong Kong's center-left Sing Pao Daily News opined that China "is just adopting legal means to safeguard unification and prevent separation," while Beijing's official Elite Reference held that the law boosts the PRC's "flexibility and authority to contain Taiwan independence." ROC outlets assailed the law as a "great and dangerous leap backwards" that could "mandate military action" with "horrific consequences"; pro-independence Taiwan Daily blasted Beijing's "ridiculous mindset."
'An easing of dangerous tensions'-- Dailies such as Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine predicted that the election "could result in a relaxation of tensions" between China and Taiwan because Chen's "more controversial policies will meet resistance" within Taiwan's legislature. Hong Kong's pro-PRC Wen Wei Po agreed that the risk of a "cross-strait war...has been lowered." Other papers, however, warned that it is "too early to expect an all-out thaw" between Taipei and Beijing. These dailies advised China "not to misinterpret the opposition" victory as a "repudiation of Taiwan's separate path" and asserted that cross-strait relations will "continue to be in a deadlock" because "Beijing will not make concessions."
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 73 reports from 14 entities over 11 - 27 December 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
TAIWAN: "Taiwan Is Not The Problem, But China Is"
Pro-independence Liberty Times editorialized (12/27): “The U.S. is caught between democratic Taiwan and despotic China. China always has used international negotiation and its domestic market to threaten the U.S. for concessions on the issue of cross-Strait relations. The U.S. consequently faces a dilemma in choosing between the two. Theoretically, the U.S. is a democratic country, it should enhance its interaction with democratic Taiwan and should express the respectfulness of the basic human rights to the people of Taiwan. Unfortunately, as leaders
in the U.S. and Taiwan lack direct communication, unnecessary misunderstandings have occurred. Such misunderstandings would be reduced significantly if the ban on contacts of high-ranking leaders were lifted.... This is the structural problem between the U.S. and Taiwan. Anyway, Taiwan is not the problem, but China is. In the past twenty years, the long-term goal of international investment to China, including investment from Taiwan, seeks to promote political reforms through economic development, and to push China to fulfill its international obligations. The foreign capital brings the economic growth [in China], but it becomes the resources for China to build its military. In the meantime, China increases its political control internally, and prepares to use force to solve international disputes. Furthermore, China is playing ‘big nation diplomacy.’ By making use of the United States’ needs for cooperation on North Korea, Iraq and anti-terrorism issues, China manipulates the U.S. with 'cooperation but faction’ strategy. Taiwan is among the gains from this strategy.”
"This Legislation Hands The Hot Potato Back To The U.S."
Sun Yang-ming wrote in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (12/26): "The real issue is that once this anti-secession bill becomes a law, there will be a struggle between Washington and Beijing over who has the dominant right to define the so-called ‘status-quo’ in the future. The basic strategic thinking and attitude of China toward how to deal with the Taiwan issue has changed. As a result, which direction Taiwan will be moving and the issue of independence will become a burden for the U.S. The concept of an anti-secession law coincides with this [new] attitude. The neo-Conservatives of the Bush administration have been trying to use Taiwan as a means to delay China’s rise [as a power] and let Taiwan become a burden for China. However, China is passing back this hot potato and having the United States accountable for the consequences should Taiwan cross the red line. This is why Beijing only wants an ‘anti-secession law’ rather than a ‘unification law.'"
"U.S. Support For Taiwan May Not Be A Sure Thing"
Chin Heng-wei commented in the pro-independence English-language Taipei Times (12/26): “The U.S.' true focus is not the Taiwan question but the threat of China, and Taiwan is merely a landmine placed between the two giants. It is only when the situation is looked at in this light that one can understand the U.S. standpoint on the Taiwan question, the TRA and U.S.-China-Taiwan relations. Naturally, America has the choice of not defending Taiwan, should it relinquish its interests in the West Pacific Region. To put it more clearly, if the U.S. sells the ‘Taiwan landmine’ down the river, and scraps the TRA, they will lose the Western Pacific Region as a sphere of influence. This will be tantamount to making the same errors they committed 50 years ago, and creating a monster that they cannot control.”
"Armitage’s 'Landmine' Remarks And U.S.-China-Taiwan Relations"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times stated (12/23): “However, even though Armitage’s remarks seemed unfavorable to Taiwan, U.S. policy [toward Taiwan] remains basically unchanged. In the meantime, we also noticed that military, economic and trade cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan are strengthening.... As a result, it is natural that Taiwan should not take Armitage’s remarks too lightly, but neither should it be seized in fear all the time. As a superpower in the world, the U.S.' cross-Strait policy is stable and will not be changed suddenly. Given the prevailing neo-conservatism in the U.S., all Taiwan has to do is to strengthen communication with the U.S., constantly put itself in Washington’s shoes, and not take any ‘unexpected’ action or be a ‘landmine.’ In that case, chances will be slim for the U.S. to tilt toward Beijing."
"It Is Difficult To Understand Why The Pan-Blue Camp Is Making A Fuss"
Pro-independence Taiwan Daily observed (12/23): “But we must point out that the top priority for the re-elected Bush administration’s global strategic layout is to build an anti-terrorism front. Washington needs to seek Beijing’s cooperation in its anti-terrorism campaign especially when it wants to contain the military expansion of North Korea. As a result, it is a serious matter that deserves Taiwan’s close attention as to whether such a development will lead to the U.S. making more concessions to China with regard to the Taiwan issue.... We believe that the DPP government should make the best use of those relationships with our American friends in the private sector, which were built when former President Lee Teng-hui was in the office, especially the relations with those retired U.S. congressmen. We should act proactively to seek their support and understanding for Taiwan. More importantly, the Taiwan people should stand up and speak out their voices. They should convey their collective will to the U.S. society through a comprehensive and in-depth publicity campaign.”
"No More Messing Around With [Taiwan’s] Foreign Relations"
Lisa Hsu held in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/23): "Taiwan and the U.S. do enjoy similar strategic alliance values, which will not be easily affected by changes in their bilateral relations. But Washington, until now, still believes that President Chen has constantly abused the goodwill of the U.S. just in order to gain his personal political interests. The U.S. does not want to be extorted by Taiwan without reason, and it is certainly not a good thing for Taiwan either from the diplomatic or national security perspectives. Taiwan is making things difficult for its good friend, which without doubt, is putting itself into a more dangerous position.... Facing the increasingly severe and comprehensive diplomatic attacks launched by Beijing, does Taiwan have a great strategy plan to address the situation as a whole and make as many friends as possible [in the international community]? In the face of the fact that Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as its overseas missions have gradually lost its combat ability, our foreign policy makers should no longer mess around with Taiwan’s foreign relations. It is time for them to ponder on the next step that they should take when it comes to Taiwan’s foreign relations--a major defensive front for the island."
"Consider KMT’s ‘China Complex’"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times noted (12/23): “Armitage said...on Tuesday that a declaration of war in defense of Taiwan is a decision that can only be made by Congress. All Armitage’s remarks imply is that the U.S. is a country in which the rule of law is practiced--really nothing new. His remark about Taiwan being a landmine was more controversial. What he likely meant is that the Taiwan issue is so thorny that it might lead to friction between the U.S. and China, and could become explosive if not carefully handled. This is hardly new either. If this is not what he meant, hopefully he can clarify his meaning.... The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) immediate reaction to Armitage’s remarks was to speak for the U.S. by interpreting them as a warning that the U.S. would be unlikely to commit forces in the event of war. The KMT’s behavior is incomprehensible; on the one hand, it says the U.S. will not defend Taiwan, yet on the other, it blocked the military procurement budget that Taiwan needs to defend itself. Such behavior indicates the KMT is deliberately retarding Taiwan’s military strength.... The worst-case scenario is that the KMT will succeed in unilaterally disarming Taiwan, so that when the massive Chinese military makes its move, the U.S. will face a dilemma as to how to respond militarily. If it mobilizes its forces, the cost is likely to be high; but if it doesn’t, it will witness Taiwan being swallowed up by a totalitarian beast.... The U.S., in formulating its policy to aid the defense of Taiwan, must also consider the KMT’s ‘China complex,’ and avoid allowing it to become a weak link in the defense of the Taiwan Strait.... The US Congress should also amend the Taiwan Relations Act to make it more consistent with the spirit and condition of the times, and block any rash actions by China to annex Taiwan.”
"U.S. Hesitates To Defend Taiwan"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post maintained (12/23): “Armitage’s statement about Taiwan being a ‘land mine in Washington’s relations with mainland China’ have dealt a further blow to the attempt to the ‘green camp’ to pursue Taiwanese independence. The U.S., apparently displeased by Chen’s independence agenda, now considers his administration an obstacle to building stability in the East Asia area. The U.S. may become so impatient with Taiwan as to withhold continued support, in which case the island’s security will be at risk--a possibility that radical independence advocates have persistently chosen to ignore so far. But chances are that the ruling DPP, which has Taiwan independence enshrined in its party platform, will push on with its provocative agenda. No wonder a lot of observers now believe that war in the Taiwan Strait is only a matter of time.”
"China’s Proposed 'Anti-Secession Law' Not Only Attempts To Intimidate Taiwan But Also The U.S."
Pro-independence Taiwan Daily declared (12/20): "No matter whether it is called the ‘National Reunification Law’ or the ‘Anti-Secession Law,’ the proposed bill has exposed the ridiculous mindset of the Chinese government in treating Taiwan as a ‘special administrative region under the PRC.’ Beijing’s attempt is both intimidation against and an insult to Taiwan’s dignity and its sovereignty that is shared by all Taiwan people. [Our] government should closely monitor any follow-up moves by Beijing and raise a solemn protest to the international community [about Beijing’s attempt]."
"China’s Dangerous Leap Backwards"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times commented (12/20): "The new [anti-secession] law might have the benefit of waking the US up to how it has let itself be hopelessly manipulated by Beijing for the last year or so into putting pressure on Taiwan and working against its better, strategic interests. But the important message that has to be understood in Washington and broadcast to Beijing is that the new law will be a disaster for any kind of cross-strait dialogue. Taiwan has been willing to talk for a long time. It simply wants to do so without preposterous preconditions which nobody could possibly find acceptable. This leaves the ball in Beijing’s court to soften its stance and allow talks to take place. Actually Beijing needs an internal debate about how best to woo Taiwan. But all the regime understands is pressure. It thinks pressure works and it is about to go some way toward criminalizing the suggestion that pressure should be abandoned. This is a great and dangerous leap backwards.”
"Ultimatum--Or Just More Propaganda From Mainland?"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post editorialized (12/19): "But there is surely another aspect to the proposed [anti-secession] law involving the U.S., which Beijing views as the key stumbling block to gaining possession of Taiwan despite the overwhelming opposition to reunification under Beijing’s terms among the people of Taiwan. Ever since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1979 to provide a basis for ‘unofficial’ substantive relations with Taipei, Beijing has complained about alleged U.S. ‘interference’ in the PRC’s ‘internal affairs.’ Passage of a so-called ‘anti-secession’ law by Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament would give [Chinese President] Hu the rhetorical tool he needs to counter the Taiwan Relations Act, which American government officials unceasingly cite as the basis for their continued support of our government and people. As long as this proposed legislation remains just as a rhetorical tool or a ‘bone’ to throw to some hard-liners that remain a vocal minority within the ranks of the Chinese Communist Party, we will not need to worry too much about the law’s potential impact on cross-strait relations. But we will need to pay close attention to the wording of the bill, and not just to gauge whether Hu is really in charge. If the law is worded so strictly as to mandate military action at the slightest provocation, we should prepare our armed forces and public to deal with the possibility of military action against us. Even though we believe such action would be likely to end in defeat for the communist forces on the battlefield, an outbreak of military conflict in the Taiwan Strait would have horrific consequences for our security, as well as regional stability and the entire world’s economy."
"Beijing Elevates Countering Taiwan Independence"
Yu Hui-chen said in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/18): “Sources said actually China is not afraid of using force against ‘Taiwan independence,’ but China is afraid to fight with the U.S. Beijing’s move to legislate the ‘anti-secession law’ is to elevate the level of its countering Taiwan independence moves and strategically speaking, to define China’s ‘bottom line’ in the U.S.-China negotiations.... It could be a decision out of more important concerns for China to choose to propose the ‘anti-secession law’ after Taiwan’s legislative elections to ‘show it to the U.S'.... Many Chinese government agencies and personnel involved in Taiwan affairs consider that the biggest reason for the Pan-Blue alliance victory in the legislative elections is because the U.S. had openly expressed its attitude not to support Taiwan independence, and, thus, influenced the voters in Taiwan. Beijing believes that in the current stage, the most effective way to oppress Taiwan independence is have the U.S. constrain Taiwan.... China is rather proactive on the strategy of ‘collaborative management’ of the situation in the Taiwan Strait with the U.S.... Based on strategic considerations, Beijing is unwilling to see the ‘fantasy’ held by the outside world, thinking that the situation in the Taiwan Strait is mitigating after the Pan-Blue alliance won.... However, it will be difficult for China to articulate the bottom line of ‘One China’ when it wants to further negotiate with the U.S. in terms of the Taiwan issue.... The timely proposal of the ‘anti-secession law’ not only represents that China’s struggle with Taiwan independence, headed by Hu Jintao as the leader of the fourth generation, will enter a new level, but also signifies an important tool that will be used in the future U.S.-China negotiations on Taiwan issue.”
"No More Room For Strategic Ambiguity Across The Taiwan Strait"
Wang Ming-yi wrote in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/18): “At the present stage, the two great rivals that [Chinese President] Hu Jintao faces when dealing with the Taiwan issue are: the re-elected Bush administration and Taiwan’s minority administration headed by President Chen Shui-bian. As already hinted in the ‘May 17 statement’ issued by Beijing, in which China said it ‘does not fear or believe in ghosts and evil practices,’ the ‘U.S. ghost’ and the ‘evil practices of Taiwan independence’ are the two barriers confronting Beijing when it deals with the Taiwan issue. Beijing's plan to ‘work with the U.S. in fighting against Taiwan independence’--namely, it informed Washington in advance saying that its proposed anti-secession law is consistent with its one China principle--is a move to prevent Washington from turning into a factor that will interfere with China’s anti-Taiwan independence policy.”
"Legislative Election Is Not the Only Thing President A-Bian Has Failed To Win"
Chang Hui-ying asserted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/15): "When it comes to the outcome of [last Saturday’s] legislative elections, what the DPP failed to win was not votes or seats [in the Legislative Yuan] alone. Instead, President Chen Shu-bian has in fact lost two of the most valuable things--namely, the respect and trust of the people [of Taiwan], and this was a major factor leading to the DPP’s electoral defeat.... When [a president] has lost his people’s respect for him, it means he has also lost their trust. Chen has always made beautiful promises whenever he is defeated. Now he is vowing to be the president of all the people of Taiwan. But people can hardly forget the fact that he has openly used Taipei-Washington ties and cross-Strait relations as a weapon.... As a state leader, Chen has not only lost the respect and trust of his people but has also lost the respect and trust of Taiwan’s most important ally--the U.S. The mutual trust between Taipei and Washington has been badly damaged, and the U.S. has been troubled enough as a result of Chen’s political manipulations. As a result, Washington has decided to actively interfere with everything concerning Taiwan, even the change of names of its state-owned enterprises. But the real reason behind all of this is because the United States has lost even the slightest bit of respect for Chen as the president of Taiwan, and it no longer trusts Chen’s policies or pledges. Compared to the minor defeat in the legislative elections, [losing the respect and trust of the United States] is a major defeat for Chen. The DPP failed in Saturday’s elections, but Chen as the leader of Taiwan is the one that has suffered a really severe defeat.”
"U.S. Words Matter In Taiwan"
The conservative, pro-unification English-language China Post editorialized (12/14): “The surprise outcome of Saturday’s legislative elections, blocking the pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian’s bid to control the legislature, is a relief for Beijing, Washington and Taiwan’s neighbors.... It is easy to conclude that the results were ‘an upset win for the opposition,’ ‘a setback for Chen’ and ‘most people favor status quo.’ And it is also convenient to say that under Chen’s dictatorship, the green group’s campaign obviously had overplayed its hand, ignoring the people’s wishes for stability and harmony and pushing more boldly its anti-China platforms. But the electorate’s support for the blue group could not have increased if Washington had not sent timely and blunt warnings against Chen’s provocative rhetoric.... Obviously, voters chose to heed America’s caution and not to rewrite history. Polls show 2.2 million voters who had supported his re-election bid in March changed their minds or simply stayed away from the ballot box. But the opposition’s majority of two is too slim to check the all-powerful presidential office, promising prolonged political instability. Cross-strait peace will depend on Washington restraining Taipei, Beijing being less assertive, and on the prudence of Taiwan’s people who already have freedom and de facto independence and apparently aren’t willing to gamble for de jure independence merely as a gesture of defiance.”
"New Poll Deals Chen A Serious Blow"
Osman Tseng held in the conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post (12/13): "The results of the just ended Saturday legislative election delivered many important messages. Among them is a revelation that proves to us incorrect a current widely held perception: The ideology of independence, or Taiwanese nationalism, has acquired such widespread popular support that it now has become the mainstream political faith in Taiwan.... That a greater portion of the voters chose to support the pro-status quo ‘pan-blue’ suggests that these people, instead of backing the independence cause, prefer to see Taiwan continuing to preserve its current political standing.... With a renewed mandate, the opposition alliance could provide stronger checks on the Chen administration, necessitated by the fact that the government team has become increasingly unresponsive.... The Saturday legislative poll in a sense was a no-confidence against Chen.... The refusal of the voters to answer to Chen’s calls and give him control of the lawmaking body was a serious blow to him. Without the backing of the legislature, it would become even more difficult, if not impossible, for him to enact a new Constitution by a referendum. His recently launched name-rectification plan and the broader de-sinicization campaign being carried out by his administration can be expected to face even stronger objections from the re-elected Legislature, to be installed in February."
"Politics Should Return To Basics"
Professor Chu Yun-han noted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/13): “The State Department spokesman said ‘the United States salutes the people of Taiwan’ immediately after the outcome of the legislative elections was revealed, and one can easily see [Washington’s] excitement behind that statement. The outcome of the elections, to a certain extent, has excluded the possibility of ‘overall rule’ by the DPP government headed by President Chen Shui-bian for the next three years. It has also significantly cut back on the room the Pan-Green alliance has for political operations intended to promote ‘a referendum on the new constitution’ and ‘the name changes [plan] for Taiwan.’ As far as Washington is concerned, the outcome of the elections is equivalent to the de-fusing of a bomb by the majority of Taiwan voters--[a bomb] which might finally have triggered a military showdown between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Also, for the time being, it has saved the United States from having to take the trouble to impose serious measures that might jeopardize Taiwan in order to de-fuse the bomb by itself. Moreover, the outcome of the elections has offered the United States a special warrant based on ‘respect for the majority opinion in Taiwan’ to monitor Chen’s [words and behaviors] in the future....
“The roughly 2.2 million voters who supported President Chen with regard to his re-election half a year ago did not come out to vote or even chose to vote for Pan-Blue alliance candidates or independent candidates this time. This means that the issues that Chen focused on during the [presidential election] campaign failed to meet their expectations as priority policies that Chen should deal with in his second term of office.... But Chen’s administration still tried to use the illusionary ‘national identity’ issue...simply failed to work this time."
"More Work Needs To Be Done"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times noted (12/13): “The election is being interpreted everywhere as a rejection of Taiwan separatism. Certainly there was a sense that themes from Chen’s campaigning would, if realized, raise tensions with China. But there was also a wide realization that many of these would be impossible to attain, given that the pan-greens would never win the super-majority needed to make constitutional changes on their own. So there was a strange hollowness about the DPP’s Chen-centered campaign, an emptiness that resulted in some 2.25 million who voted green in March--a third of the total votes for Chen--not showing up at the polls Saturday.... But while voters might have balked at the risky road the DPP seemed to be taking, Taiwan consciousness is not going to go away. Remember it was the strongly pro-reunification People First Party that was the big loser in the election, seeing a quarter of its seats go to the more moderate Chinese Nationalist Party."
"Make A Choice"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News editorialized (12/13): “The Pan-Blue alliance has secured a majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan. The first task that the new legislature, which will start operating next spring, should do is to pass legislation and make ‘the referendum on Taiwan independence’ a legal mechanism.... Objectively speaking, the Pan-Blue alliance’s reserved attitude toward the referendum on Taiwan independence and the United States’ attempts to restrain such a referendum are both a result of their good intentions, hoping that the DPP will not put itself in an unfavorable position. President Chen, however, distorted and took advantage of these good intentions, which in the end have become an amulet for Chen to manipulate the Taiwan independence issue unscrupulously.... In other words, both the United States and the Pan-Blue alliance hope to hold back the holding of a referendum on Taiwan independence, but instead, they have been held hostages by the Taiwan independence issue.... To change this situation, the first thing [the new legislature] should do is to complete legislation for holding a referendum on Taiwan independence. The only resolution [to such a dispute] is to return the right to decide whether Taiwan should declare independence back to the Taiwan people. If the majority of Taiwan people decide that Taiwan should declare independence, then we should move ahead [toward such a goal] in full gear; if not, then the President should no longer trample upon the constitutional rule."
"In The Aftermath Of The Legislative Election: The U.S. Had Better Talk Less"
Lin Cheng-yi stated in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (12/12): "Perhaps the Bush administration may think that since the Pan-Blue alliance won the majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, the movements to push for Taiwan’s constitutional reform and name changes will face more obstacles, thus reducing the opportunities for the Chen Shui-bian administration to provoke Beijing. But Washington should also review its inconsistent position toward Taiwan’s democratic development.... “[The United States] used to use its arms sales to Taiwan as a means to pressure the KMT to lift martial law, and now it is citing security as a reason to pressure the DPP to restrain its political reforms. Washington’s way of handling the Taiwan referendum issue seems to fall into a predicament along the lines of ‘[We] don’t like it but [we] cannot stop it.’... The Bush administration now tends to make a more public and more immediate response when reacting to unfavorable behavior from Taipei, leaving the latter no room for imagination. Given the [fact that the] Pan-Blue alliance won the majority in the Legislative Yuan, the United States may have less chance to make such hegemonic responses.”
CHINA: "Bush Scolds Chen Shuibian For The Third Time"
Liu Aicheng commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/27): "U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage’s formulation that Taiwan is the ‘biggest land mine’ in U.S.-China relations...is the third stern warning by Bush against Chen Shuibian. In the past year, the U.S. has issued more frequent warnings with sterner words.... The U.S. in fact has not given up assisting in Taiwan’s defense. It seems that U.S. information is contradictory, and this in fact shows that maintaining Taiwan’s status quo most suits U.S. interests.... Meanwhile by increasing military preparations, it is hinting to the Mainland not to change the status quo.... On the other hand, the contradictory information also shows...that U.S.-China relations are stepping forward steadily. In the past year, the U.S. and Chinese leaders have engaged in frequent contact and dialogue.... The leaders’ frank exchange of views shows that the two have set up trusting relations. In contrast, estrangement between the U.S. and Taiwan has rather increased.”
"Anti-Secession Law Makes Beijing More Resolute"
Huang Zhihui commented in official Communist Youth League-affiliated Elite Reference (Qingnian Cankao) (12/22): "It is not a coincidence that the news about the anti-secession law’s submission for approval came out almost at the same time as President Hu Jintao’s visit to Macao for its reunion celebrations.... The legal articles will clarify the national leaders’ resolve based on the law, in the face of the possibility of behavior that could divide the country (including war, blockades or sanctions), and clarify the resolve to deal with adversarial actions (like Taiwan’s constitutional revision or announcement of independence).... After the legislation, China’s flexibility and authority to contain Taiwan independence would be greatly improved. The word ‘anti-secession’ is replacing ‘unification'.... This gives the U.S. no excuse to oppose the legislation and leaves a flexible space in which to manipulate the Taiwan topic."
"Anti-Secession Law Seeks Peaceful Reunification"
Jiao Xiaoyang asserted in the official English-language China Daily (12/22): “The creation of an anti-secession law is based on 'doing the utmost for a scenario of peaceful reunification,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said yesterday.... Commencing the legislative process against secession aims at curbing separatist activities, which is favorable for maintaining the peace, stability and prosperity of the Taiwan Straits and the Asia-Pacific region as well.... The legislature is expressing the common will of Chinese people by making the law, that is peaceful reunification and 'one country, two systems.... The U.S. should abide by its one-China commitment, and give support and understanding to the legislative actions of the NPC instead of sending any wrong signals to 'Taiwan independence' forces.”
"Pentagon Wants A Hotline To Beijing"
Li Shun commented in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (12/14): “Reportedly the U.S. Defense Department formally raised the possibility of setting up a ‘military hotline’ to Chinese Ministry of Defense.... It is said that the U.S. also raised the possibility of setting up a crisis management system and an advance-notice mechanism for military exercises, so that timely exchanges can be made through the hotline to prevent an accident at sea from turning into a military conflict between the two countries. Military experts point out that the ever more complex Taiwan Strait situation indeed requires a mutual trust mechanism between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. When in recent years China’s PLA has held exercises...this was to prevent blatant Taiwan independence sentiments. But Taiwan independence supporters have always taken for granted that the U.S. military automatically would show up as ‘U.S. support to Taiwan.’ This partly influences the containment of our military.... If the U.S. and China can exchange opinions in advance, then the U.S. military, which would be clear about what is happening, won’t show up near the Taiwan Strait.... Moreover, the anti-terror issue also requires that the U.S. and China establish a hotline connection. The possibility exists for the two to cooperate more in this field.... U.S.-China military exchanges have gradually escalated.... U.S. and China military cooperation in anti-terror information exchange has developed stably since 9/11. The two have a firm basis and in certain fields have made breakthroughs in mid-level exchanges. More important, there aren’t many differences in the two in regard to decision-making and crisis management.... The U.S. military’s final decision is also a collective decision. Therefore the U.S. and Chinese military leaders’ attitudes can to a certain extent reflect the opinions of the decision-makers. Once the hotline is established, the contacts between our military leaders and the U.S. side suit the diplomatic principle of parity at the intermediate level.”
"Will China And The U.S. Establish A Military Hotline?"
Biao Xiaoming and Li Wei maintained in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (12/14): “In recent years, U.S.-China senior military officials’ visits have been frequent and military exchanges have developed stably. If ‘a hotline’ can be established, the exchanges could reach a new, higher level. Japanese media reports of the news have aroused great attention.... But whether or not such a high level exchange mechanism can be established is still in question.... The two countries’ military relations are fragile. One key factor is the Taiwan issue.... Military experts point out that it is still too early to establish a military hotline. First, given the assessments of the U.S. government, Congress and think tanks, the U.S. still has suspicions about the nature of Chinese military strength and about China’s future regional strategic intentions.... Its strategic containment of China impedes the establishment of the hotline. Second, the military command systems of the two countries differ greatly. They have different decision-making and crisis management mechanisms. The two have very different views on the necessity and urgency of setting up a hotline. Third, in the operational sense...the U.S. in fact worries very much about China obtaining secret information through military exchanges...as does China.... Even if the hotline is established, its efficacy would still be in doubt.... U.S. enthusiasm about military exchanges with China is only a tactical adjustment, not a strategic one. It hopes to...'softly bring China into the U.S.-led international security system.’ Once the U.S. gets out of its current dilemma, it will lose its enthusiasm and the function of the hotline will thus decrease.”
"Polls Show Separatist Moves Unpopular"
Hai Xia commented in the official English-language China Daily (12/14): “Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's attempt to reap the biggest gains from the polls in Saturday's 'legislative' elections was shattered. Chen's pan-green camp's failure to win a majority at the 'parliament' fully demonstrates the unpopularity of the island leader's obstinate separatist stance which runs counter to the common aspiration for cross-Straits peace and stability. Since Chen took office in 2000 and was re-elected in March, he has done nothing to improve cross-Straits ties. Before the election, Chen had repeatedly vowed to wrest an absolute majority in the 225-seat 'parliament' to facilitate his pro-independence push. The outcome of the election shows that the majority of Taiwanese want to maintain the political status quo in cross-Straits relations by exerting restraint on Chen's pro-independence coalition consisting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union. The voters were alarmed by Chen's rash lurch towards independence, especially his plan to change the name of their overseas representative offices if his party gained control of the legislature. Chen announced on December 5 a two-year timetable to drop the word 'China' from the names of all relevant government agencies and government-controlled enterprises in favour of 'Taiwan.' A number of government-run enterprises on the island fear huge rebranding costs if they are forced to remove China from their corporate names in favour of Taiwan. Chen's political moves have also won the disapproval of the U.S., which is opposed to any unilateral steps that would change the cross-Straits status quo. However, even if the pan-blue coalition of Kuomintang, People First Party and New Party will take advantage of its victory to check and balance the pan-green camp, Chen could still force through his various separatist schemes in the legislature. Chen should bear in mind that Beijing will never compromise the one-China principle, no matter what stunts he may pull off.”
"'Taiwan Independence' Encounters Severe Frustration"
Wu Yaming commented in official Communist Party Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/13): ”Why did the Chen Shui-bian camp lose? First, 'Taiwan independence’ did not earn people’s support. This result proves that the public voted to oppose the ‘constitutional referendum.... As a CNN reporter said...the situation is now much simpler for the U.S. Since the U.S. hoped that Chen’s political stance would become milder, but he did not listen.... Second, the DPP has been rotting quickly, but the influence of the ‘bullet President’ still exists.... Taiwan voters said that the...DPP was elected by trickery, by two bullets during the ‘Presidential election,’ and now voters have the chance to correct the mistake.... Third, Camp Green’s internal disputes are harming its competitiveness.... It is undeniable that Taiwan independence has to a certain extent been contained, but in the event that ‘fights continue between government and the Yuan,’ cross-Straits relations will still not improve. The Blue Camp’s victory means that it has gained a certain competitiveness for the next ‘Presidential election.’”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Cross-strait Dialogue Is The Best Solution"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (12/23): "The failure of President Chen Shui-bian's party to secure a majority in Taiwan's legislative election has not led to the taking of a softer line by Beijing. Instead, the mainland has increased the pressure on him. This week, Beijing announced it intends to press ahead with a law against secession which is expected to specifically target Taiwan. A draft will soon be put before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. It is widely expected to provide a legal pretext for possible military action.... If the Taiwanese president is, as the mainland claims, insincere about wanting dialogue, there is one easy way to expose him--call his bluff. Mainland officials have stressed that the secession law is intended as a move towards peaceful reunification. That is reassuring. But the best way to find a peaceful solution would be for both sides to stop making waves and enter into dialogue."
"Dialogue Is More Useful Than A Protecting Power"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (12/23): "After U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage openly said that Taiwan is the biggest landmine in Sino-U.S. relations and the Taiwan Relations Act does not require the U.S. to assist Taiwan in a war, the Taiwan government was immediately thrown into confusion. One the one hand, they stressed that the U.S. Taiwan policy is unchanged. On the other hand, Taiwan's Foreign Affairs Ministry requested that the U.S. clarify Armitage's remarks. The embarrassment and worries of the Taiwan government can be easily understood because Armitage's remarks are unprecedentedly frank. They are severe warnings to the Taiwan government. They may also indicate that the U.S. will make substantial changes to its Taiwan policy. How can the Taiwan government be calm?.... We believe that the two sides of the strait should put aside unnecessary political squabbles and start a dialogue. This is the best way to ease cross-strait relations and to prevent cross-strait war. Having a dialogue rather than being protected or having defense promises from any country conforms more to the interests of all Chinese, and especially the Taiwanese people."
"U.S. Should Understand And Support China's Legislation"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po said (12/22): "In response to a U.S. State Department official saying that the proposed anti-secession law is a threat to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region...we say the National People's Congress initiated the legislation with the aim of striving for peaceful reunification. Thus, the remarks of the U.S. official are irresponsible and unreasonable.... Enacting the anti-secession law is the common will of Chinese people. It is the internal affairs of China and it conforms to the international community as well as U.S. interests. Hence, the accusation of the U.S. official is not reasonable. He has ignored the strong will of the Chinese people and has interfered in Chinese internal affairs. He has not looked after the common interests of the U.S. and the international community. His remarks are indeed unwise.... Since the U.S. realizes that 'Taiwan independence' activities will threaten and endanger U.S.-China relations, it should understand and support China's move in enacting the anti-secession law."
"Beijing's Strong Reminder"
Editor-at-large Chris Yeung noted in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/20): "It may be merely coincidental, but the announcement on Friday of a plan to introduce an anti-secession law--less than a week after Taiwan's legislative election--reflects a lingering sense of crisis and disillusionment in Beijing over the island's pro-independence movement.... Instead of playing the game of creeping independence, some analysts say that Mr. Chen has changed tactics and accelerated the pace of seeking an independent, or quasi-independent, Taiwan. It is against this background that Beijing and Washington both seem to have come to an understanding about their shared interest, and the importance of more efforts to stop the trend of independence. U.S. President George W. Bush and his top aides have given veiled warnings to Mr. Chen not to go too far. The latest legislative move against secession is aimed at sending a clear and strong reminder to Taiwan, and countries including the U.S. and Japan, about Beijing's zero-tolerance of Taiwan's pro-independence move. It is only by doing so that the end-game of reunification will remain a possibility, albeit a very distant one."
"'Anti-Secession Law' Shows The Will Of Unification"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News declared (12/18): "When President Hu Jintao made his overseas trip, overseas Chinese suggested to him that Beijing should stipulate the 'unification law' to obstruct Taiwan from amending its constitution. Now, the NPC is considering the 'anti-secession law,' whose scope is narrower than the 'unification law.' The objective of the law is to reject separation and not insist on unification. But the law is derived from the 'unification law,' which aims at setting a clear objective of China legally rejecting Taiwan's separation. After Beijing enacts the 'anti-secession law,' Taiwanese people will recognize Beijing's determination against 'Taiwan independence.' They will, therefore, not support Chen Shui-bian's move towards independence. It is anticipated that the Taiwanese people will be able to contain Ah bian."
"Hong Kong People Support Enacting The Anti-secession Law "
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (12/18): "The draft anti-secession law will be submitted for deliberation soon. There is a significant meaning. It indicates that the national law is moving an important step toward perfection. In the meantime, it is an important step in safeguarding China's territorial and sovereign integrity and in completing the great cause of national unification. China initiates the legal mechanism to enact a law to reject 'Taiwan independence.' It shows that rejecting 'Taiwan independence' no longer is based simply on historical views or national righteousness; it is not just a political issue, but instead a serious legal issue. Advocating 'Taiwan independence' is not only an evil move, but it also violates the law.... People generally believe that they are too benevolent to deal with Chen Shui-bian and the 'Taiwan independence' careerists by 'touching them with feelings and persuading them with reasons.' Only by enacting the anti-secession law can unification not become empty talk."
"China Grasps Initiative By Enacting Law To Reject Taiwan Independence"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News editorialized (12/18): "The NPC Standing Committee will deliberate the 'anti-secession law' by the end of this month. Deliberating such a law now shows that the central government is not optimistic about the Taiwan situation. In order to stop someone from splitting the country, China must get prepared and seek legal grounds. Thus, if it needs to take any measures, it will be legally supported.... Taiwan accuses Beijing of making up an excuse to attack Taiwan. This argument is untenable. Prior to the U.S. selling weapons to Taiwan, it had made up something call the 'Taiwan Relations Act.' Prior to interfering in Hong Kong affairs, it also laid down the 'Hong Kong Policy Act.' Hence, what does 'creating an excuse' mean when Beijing is just adopting legal means to safeguard unification and prevent separation?"
"Peaceful Unification Is A Top Priority"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorialized (12/18): "Although Taiwan independence elements attempt to separate the Taiwan Island with China, a majority of Taiwanese compatriots are seeking peace and stability. They do not want the Taiwanese independence elements to upset peace in the Taiwan Strait. The mainstream opinions at both sides of the Strait will be an important foundation for legislating the 'anti-secession law'.... China launches the legislation procedure of the 'anti-secession law' which is particularly targeted at Taiwan. It shows that the determination and the strong will of the Chinese government and Chinese people in safeguarding national peace and territorial integrity. In the meantime, the anti-secession law also delivers a strong signal to the world that the Chinese government and Chinese people are strongly against Taiwan independence. In addition, it conveys to the Taiwan independence elements that the Chinese government and Chinese people are capable and have power in unifying the country and safeguarding its sovereignty."
"An Important Decision To Check 'Taiwan Independence'"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po maintained (12/18): "At the 13th session of the NPC Standing Committee meeting, which will run from December 25-29, the draft anti-secession law will be submitted for deliberation. The scope of the draft law does not apply to Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. It will only target the separation activities of the 'Taiwan independence' power, especially the dangerous move of the Taiwan authority in 'legalizing Taiwan independence.' The anti-secession law is a significant decision of China in deterring 'Taiwan independence.' From a legal angle, the Chinese nation has expressed its opposition against secession and its strong will of promoting unification. The anti-secession will create positive and profound impacts on promoting cross-strait relations and unification as well as on safeguarding peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."
"Japan's Approval Of Lee Teng-hui's Visit Is Meant To Provoke China"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po stated (12/17): "Yesterday, the Japanese government decided to grant a visa to Lee Teng-hui. It has disregarded Sino-Japan relations by approving the visit of the spiritual leader of 'Taiwan independence'--Lee Teng-hui. The move approves and supports the splitting activities of the 'Taiwan independence' power. It also disrupts China's great cause of peaceful unification.... The Japanese government is showing a continuously unfriendly attitude toward the Chinese people. Visiting the Yasukuni shrine to revive militarism and abetting the 'Taiwan independence' power's arrogance are provocations to China's core interests and to the Asia-Pacific region's peace and stability. On the one hand, Japan hastens to penetrate and rope in Taiwan politically, economically and culturally. It strives for a bigger influential power over the Taiwan authority's China policy. On the other hand, it tries to step up Japan-U.S. military alliance and expand its scope of 'defense' so as to support and encourage the 'Taiwan independence' power in Taiwan. Some people in Japan try to separate Taiwan from the territory of China. They attempt to resume Taiwan's colonial status and turn Taiwan into a Japanese 'dependency.' Under these conditions, the intention of the Japanese government in allowing Lee Teng-hui's visit is palpable."
"Perfect Time To Test Water"
Frank Ching held in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/15): "The unexpected defeat of President Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence forces in Saturday's legislative election in Taiwan has created a situation that may finally be conducive to the resumption of cross-strait talks.... If Beijing had decided after a pro-independence triumph that it had no choice but to deal with the Chen government, it would have been acting from weakness, not strength. However, holding a dialogue with a weakened Chen regime is something else. Talking to Mr. Chen when he is still encumbered by a KMT-led legislature is ideal, from Beijing's perspective.... After all, even though the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, failed to gain a majority, both parties managed to increase the number of votes they received compared with three years ago, and the DPP even won two additional seats. If Beijing does not seize this opportunity, three years from now it may well be faced with both a DPP president and a DPP-controlled legislature. One issue that both sides can use to test the water is the question of organizing chartered flights to allow Taiwanese businesspeople on the mainland to return home for the Chinese New Year holiday.... In the long term, both Taiwan and the mainland want an arrangement to preserve the peace. A KMT proposal of a 50-year peace accord between the two sides is certainly one idea worth exploring. Washington is likely to play an important role in the process."
"Stepping Back From The Brink"
Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/14): "The Kuomintang triumph over the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan was as much a surprise to the winners as the losers. In the days leading up to the election, virtually all observers--academics, pollsters and politicians--expected a major DPP victory. Even the KMT thought that the only question was the size of its defeat.... The whole election had been dominated by Mr. Chen's pro-independence rhetoric. The economy, education, housing, jobs--none was an election issue. Instead, Mr. Chen spoke of drafting a new constitution, to be approved by a referendum. He spoke of changing the national emblem, and pledged to remove the word 'China' from the names of government agencies and state-owned companies. In a real sense, therefore, this election can be seen as a referendum on Mr. Chen's push for independence. The outcome suggests that a majority of Taiwan's people want him to put on the brakes."
"Voters Open Way For Cross-Strait Tthaw"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (12/13): "The weeks leading up to the poll featured Taiwanese president and DPP chairman Chen Shui-bian and his familiar envelope-pushing campaign rhetoric. It was the promise to change the names of Taiwan's overseas missions and state-owned companies that drew a swift rebuke from allies in Washington. And it may have been these remarks that prompted voters to opt out, much in the way they refused to vote on two referendum items on cross-strait relations placed on last spring's presidential ballot.... As for ties with Beijing, these can only be helped if offers of talks are not accompanied by assertions of a separate Taiwanese identity, which the mainland inevitably believes would include proposals to replace China with Taiwan in the island's institutional titles. The status quo may be anachronistic, but it has allowed Taiwan enough leeway to develop both a prosperous economy and a robust democracy. If the intent to reopen negotiations is sincere, then it has to be reinforced by the shelving of proposals Beijing would interpret as bids for independence. The election result does not erase the wide gulf that still exists between the two sides' negotiating stances--the most difficult question involving the one China principle, with Beijing insisting Taiwan is but a renegade province. However, it should slow momentum towards confrontation, as Mr. Chen's more controversial policies will meet resistance. It is too early to expect an all-out thaw in cross-strait relations, but the opening is greater than it would have been otherwise. Cross-strait flights would be the logical place to start."
"Pan-Blue Camp Cannot Help Unification"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (12/13): "The number of votes that the two big Taiwan independence parties (the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union) secured remained steady. However, the unification group's--Kuomintang--support has increased, as they have 'captured' the votes from another unification group--the People First Party. The support for the two groups is basically the same. The turnout for this legislative election was the lowest in history. It demonstrates that voters do not intend to declare their stance. Hence, although the victory of the pan-blue camp is widely welcomed, the political map of Taiwan independence does not have any fundamental changes.... The colors of the Kuomintang and the DPP are different but their call for 'Taiwan independence' is similar. The 'realization of Taiwan independence as soon as possible' is the tactic that both parties are using to attract voters. Even though the pan-blue camp controls the Legislative Yuan, their advocates over the Taiwan issue are getting closer to the pan-green camp. If Beijing makes eyes at the pan-blue camp, hoping to boost the power of the unification group and change the minds of Taiwanese people, it will be fruitless because it has misjudged the situation."
"Ah Bian Suffers Setbacks But The Taiwan Strait Will Not Enjoy Peace"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (12/13): "For Beijing, the return of the pan-blue camp in Taiwan and the punishment of Ah bian by the U.S. are conducive to curbing the pace of Ah bian's move towards independence. However, Ah bian is a die-hard Taiwan independence advocate. He wants to become the father of Taiwan. Hence, whenever he sees an opportunity, he will drive for Taiwan independence. Beijing knows the situation very well. Thus, it will not be cheated but will continue to prepare for war. It will make all its efforts to seal off Taiwan independence power internationally and constitutionally. Although cross-strait relations can be eased with the winning of the pan-blue camp, the tense atmosphere will continue. The Taiwan Strait situation still has one chance for change. If the pan-blue camp can seize their victory to push for the change of leadership and if they have leaders with charisma like Ma Ying-jeou to unite voters of the pan-blue camp and the middle-line, they will be able to check Ah bian. Only when such a leader emerges can the Taiwan independence power be curbed."
"Taiwanese People Give 'Yellow Card' To The Radical Group"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (12/13): "The Taiwan legislative election tells us two basic facts. First, the democratic election is a political system with an internal adjustment mechanism. Second, the Taiwanese people are annoyed by the 'verbal war' without any actual political performance.... For cross-strait relations and regional stability, the legislative election result is good news. The pan-blue camp controls the Legislative Yuan, which means that many radical policies by President Chen Shui-bian will be examined. Chen Shui-bian's and the DPP's major tasks--amending the constitution and stipulating constitution--will be passed easily. More importantly, the DPP's failure will force the DPP and President Chen Shui-bian to reconsider their policy line or they may reduce their provocative acts. Although these may not be able to improve cross-strait relations and the situation in the Asia-Pacific area, they can at least prevent the tense relations
from getting worse."
"Beijing Should Deliver Goodwill To The Pan-Blue Camp"
Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News editorialized (12/13): "Due to the 'green camp' government refusing to recognize 'One China', cross-strait dialogue has come to a stop. Now the 'pan-blue' camp, which opposes 'Taiwan independence,' has controls the Legislative Yuan; it will be able to stop Chen Shui-bian from driving forward 'Taiwan independence' by 'renaming' Taiwan. Can Beijing deliver goodwill to Lien Chen and Soong Chuyu? Now, Chen Shui-bian is still controlling the whole Taiwan government. The person in power must implement any policies. If Beijing takes a less strict attitude over major economic issues with Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian will treat this as his own 'achievement' or the 'achievement' of the DPP. It is believed that Beijing will not make concessions over major issues. However, for livelihood issues such as allowing direct flights during the Chinese New Year, Beijing can invite Lien and Soong to visit and announce the news of allowing charted direct flights. Such a small gesture will be good for alleviating cross-strait tensions."
"Seven Developments After The Taiwan Election"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (12/13): "First, Chen Shui-bian's leading status in the DPP will be shaken.... Second, the Chen Shui-bian government will face more difficulties in ruling.... Third, the 'pan-blue' camp controls the 'Legislative Yuan'; hence, it will be difficult for Chen Shui-bian to form his cabinet. He will also face many obstacles in passing decrees.... Fourth, the so-called 'referendum and new constitution' promoted strongly by Chen Shui-bian will be turned into bubbles.... Fifth, although the 'pan-green' camp failed, Chen Shui-bian will continue to use all sorts of means to drive forward 'Taiwan independence.' The move to 'rename Taiwan' will continue.... Sixth, due to the failure in the legislative election, 'Taiwan independence' powers including Lee Teng-hui's Taiwan Solidarity Union will step up to do things.... Seventh, cross-strait relations continue to be in a deadlock."
"Taiwanese People Do Not Follow 'Taiwan independence' Power"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily observed (12/13): "The Taiwanese people used their votes to teach Ah bian a lesson, crashing Ah bian's dream of winning the seats in the Legislative Yuan. No matter how people read the results of the election and no matter how the 'pan-green' camp contributes their failure to technical reasons, the fundamental fact that people should pay attention to is that the Taiwanese people sent out a strong signal through the legislative election: Taiwanese people did not support 'de-chinization' or the 'quick independence' line. They will not follow the 'Taiwan independence' power. They show that Taiwan is looking for peace, stability and development. They don't want to see a cross-strait war triggered by the radical 'Taiwan independence' power. Any moves that violate the mainstream opinion will be cast aside by the people and are doomed to fail."
"Mainstream Public Opinion In Taiwan Does Not Support 'Taiwan independence'"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po stated (12/13): "The election result reveals that the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan is looking for peace, stability and development and maintaining the status quo of cross-strait relations. The election results also shows that the risk of a cross-strait war in the next four years has been lowered. However, the 'Taiwan independence' power's splitting movements in Taiwan are still the biggest scourge to the well-being of Taiwanese people as well as the biggest threat to cross-strait peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific area. Hence, rejecting and checking Taiwan independence are still the responsibility of the cross-strait people and the international community."
"Legislative Election Didn't Change Power Map; China's Negotiation Target Is Still Bian"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News editorialized (12/12): "Although the pan-blue camp suggests alleviating cross-strait relations and rejects supporting Taiwan independence, in order to survive in the Taiwan elections, the pan-blue camp's cross-strait relations position is actually similar to the pan-green camp. Now that pan-blue camp captured a majority of the seats in the Legislative Yuan it may be able to stop Chen Shui-bian's move of holding a referendum and stipulating a constitution in 2006. However, Chen Shui-bian will not give up his many tricks to test China's bottom-line of resorting to forces. If people are looking for a real alleviation of cross-strait relations, China should seriously consider making contacts with Chen Shui-bian. It should not only rely on the space and time won by the pan-blue camp and hope that the pan-blue camp can win the presidential election in 2008."
"Pan-Blue Wins Majority; Cross-Strait Tension Not Alleviated"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News declared (12/12): "The pan-blue camp won a victory in the legislative election. However, it does not mean that cross-strait peaceful reunion will be smooth. With the promotion of the Chen Shui-bian power and the Taiwan independence power for over four years, localization has become a trend. Hostile views against China and anti-unification views have already had a market in Taiwan. Plus, Chen Shui-bian is the President, and he can make use of the administrative resources. Thus, it is really difficult to change the situation. In fact, among the pan-blue camp, some party members suggest continuing with the status quo, but they did not agree to unification. Facing such a situation, if Beijing wants to promote peaceful unification, it must have great patience and political wisdom."
"Ah Bian Braves The Cliff; U.S. Is Worried"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News opined (12/12): "Ah bian no longer follows the U.S.' lead, rather he gains the initiative and leads the U.S. by the nose. He dares turning his 'protector' who supports him militarily into a passive partner because he is sure that the U.S. has a historical burden--no White House master will dare risking universal condemnation to give up Taiwan's democracy. In Chen's mind, he believes that braving the cliff is the only way that can intimidate the U.S. as well as China.... Ah bian takes the initiative.... A green camp setback in the election, it will only have a technical impact on his overall strategy.... His next move will be stepping up the pace of amending the constitution and paving the way for Taiwan independence. He knows very well that his moves will increase the risk of a cross-strait war. However, like other Taiwanese, he dares taking the risk of war in order to fight for his goal. This is why the U.S. is very worried about the Taiwan situation."
"'Blue camp' Controls The Legislative Yuan; Chinese People Can Take A Breath"
Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News noted in an editorial (12/12): "Now that the 'blue camp' controls the Legislative Yuan, 'Ah bian' cannot play 'the democratic card' in stipulating the constitution. The troubles for the U.S. are reduced. It is believed that President Bush will welcome the result of the legislative election."
"Dissatisfaction With Bian Yields Victory For The Pan-Blue Camp"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (12/12): "[The pan-green camp] failed to capture half of the seats. Such a result dealt a great blow to the Chen Shui-bian government and the 'Taiwan independence' power, which wants to drive forward 'amending the constitution' and stepping up 'Taiwan independence' by controlling the Legislative Yuan. However, their failure creates a favorable factor for stopping cross-strait relations from worsening.... Chen Shui-bian has tried to provoke China repeatedly since coming to power. The cross-strait relations have gotten tense. Hence, many Taiwanese people are aware of the green camp. Although they do not support the blue camp, they don't want to cast their votes for the green camp. This is basic reason for the low turnout rate and the poor result obtained by the green camp."
AUSTRALIA: "Taiwan Goes For Caution"
The national conservative Australian observed (12/13): “That the people of Taiwan have used their recently unsilenced democratic voice to proceed in a cautious and conservative way on the defining issue of relations with the mainland is welcome. China has 600 missiles pointed at Taiwan across the strait, and regards even the most symbolic movement towards declared statehood--including the use of the word 'Taiwan' on passports or foreign embassies--as provocative. Yet it would take great provocation indeed for China to risk war with Taiwan's great and good friend, the U.S. And the fact that President Bush rebuked Mr. Chen a year ago over the referendum issue shows the U.S.--which also has a defining relationship to manage with China--is equally reluctant to allow the Taiwan issue to flare.... Taiwan's vigorous, fledgling democracy is one of the jewels of the region and must be nurtured and protected. But the interest for all nations involved is for the status quo between Taiwan and China to be maintained. This may not be perfect, but the alternatives look far worse.”
JAPAN: "Lifting Of EU Arms Export Ban To Risk Undermining China-Taiwan Ties"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (12/15): "We are deeply concerned about a growing EU move to lift its ban on arms sales to China as early as next year. There is no doubt that advanced military technology from Europe would help modernize the Chinese Army. Such a prospect would have a significant impact on the military balance in Asia. Taiwan would also face further threat from an increasingly powerful People's Liberation Army. Considering the recent rise in Beijing's maritime activities in the East China Sea, Tokyo should not overlook the EU move. The Japanese government must urge EU leaders to maintain the arms embargo on China... The EU is an important player in international politics. We urge it to set aside its economic interests in China and to refrain from taking 'selfish' action that might lead to instability in Asia."
"China Must Not Misinterpret Election Results"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (12/14): "Taiwanese President Chen must have been taken aback by his loss in Sunday's parliamentary election. The Chen government will need to alter its 'pro-independence' stance and reconcile ties with the U.S. Washington has been opposed to Chen's intention to rename the island's state-owned enterprises by replacing 'China' with 'Taiwan' and to include 'Taiwan' in the name of all embassies and representative offices abroad. It is likely that the election results reflected voter apprehension about Washington's disapproval of Chen's pro-independence policy. China, however, must not misinterpret the opposition camp's victory. A growing number of Taiwanese support independence, as seen in a recent opinion poll. Beijing should not view the election results as an opportunity to intervene in Taiwan's domestic affairs. Such behavior would only trigger anti-Chinese sentiment among local people."
"Election Results Reflect Balanced Opinion"
Liberal Asahi declared (12/14): "The results of the recent parliamentary election in Taiwan represent voter concern that a hasty move toward independence could cause tension with China. Most locals have voiced a preference for political stability. In economic terms, interdependence between Taiwan and China is rapidly progressing. Politically, however, tension is still running high on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.... Yet, conflict would be an unwelcome development for both parties. Beijing and Taipei should resume long-suspended political dialogue and take advantage of the election outcome."
"Do Not Raise Stakes"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun argued (12/14): "The Chen government must slow down its move toward independence in the face of the latest election results. Chen's keen interest in independence has caused anxiety among regional powers, including the U.S.... As a member of the international community, Taiwan should take the opinion of its neighbors into account."
"Voters Favor Status Quo"
Liberal Mainichi insisted (12/14): "Washington is concerned about possible conflict between Taiwan and China in the face of China's rapid military buildup.... The Bush administration is planning to provide Taiwan with diesel-powered submarines and P-3C anti-submarine patrol planes. The U.S. likely assumes the situation surrounding Taiwan will remain uncertain until the military balance between two Chinas is settled. Until then, Washington has signaled that it prefers the status quo. Both Taipei and Beijing must understand that better ties would benefit each other."
"Rough Road To Independence"
Conservative Sankei editorialized (12/12): "Taiwan's pro-independence parties, including the Democratic Progressive Party led by President Chen, suffered defeat in the legislative elections on Sunday, allowing the pro-Beijing opposition bloc to continue holding the majority in the parliament. China's threat against Chen's 'aggressive' promotion of independence and U.S. concern about his hasty campaign for sovereignty may have urged voters to maintain the status quo in Taiwanese politics. Furthermore, the president's strategies to rapidly move forward with independence for the island could have alienated voters. Beijing will likely claim the victory of pro-China parties as signaling the Taiwanese public's rejection of Chen's independence policy. However, China should not overlook the reality that the opposition parties also advocate democratic rule. Although Taiwan faces many difficulties, it will likely continue pursuing democratic reform. Both the U.S. and Japan need to pay close attention to future relations between China and Taiwan."
NEW ZEALAND: "Honest Broker"
The Dunedin-based moderate Daily Times concluded (12/13): "The vote in Taiwan...which saw President Chen Shui-bian's pro-independence coalition defeated...will lead to an easing of dangerous tensions with China.... There are many serious threats to peace in the Asia-Pacific region that, if permitted to advance unchecked, will destroy the great promise articulated thirty years ago: that this region would become the 'new world,' politically and economically. And some would say it has arrived at that position; that old Europe is finished and turning inward for mutual reassurance and protection; that America has become a pariah nation discredited throughout the East; that the greatest influence on world affairs in the next decade or two will be China. The three chief local threats are China's continuing relationship with Taiwan; North Korea's desire to develop a nuclear capability; and a growing movement in Japan to devise a new constitution permitting its revival as a military power.... Greater and more obvious effort needs to be made to capitalise on our favourable reputation; to become, in fact, the Asia-Pacific region's 'honest broker.' New Zealand is in early negotiations with China for an FTA.... In large part, New Zealand is viewed as having a kind of international neutrality, aligned with no particular partner.... Norway has achieved a similar status in Europe and the Middle East--honest broker, mediator, neutral conciliator."
SOUTH KOREA: "Hoping For Stable 'Cross-Strait' Relations"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/14): “A souring of relations between China and Taiwan is not desirable for any country. If a military conflict were to break out between the two sides and that conflict were then to become an international one, by involving the U.S. and Japan, the repercussions would be hard to imagine. If USFK were to be mobilized, the sparks would inevitably hit the Korean Peninsula. It is because the U.S. knows of these dangers that it aids Taiwan militarily and politically while not supporting President Chen Shui Bian on independence. It is also the reason why many countries are hoping to see a slowing of radical independence movements [in Taiwan] and stability in cross-strait relations as a result of the recent Taiwanese elections.... The Taiwanese people have demonstrated a proper sense of balance through the legislative elections. President Chen and the ruling Democratic Progress Party must demonstrate the wisdom to know how to harmonize the desire of the Taiwanese people for independence...and stable relations with the mainland.”
BRITAIN: "Problems Postponed"
The left-of-center Guardian concluded (12/14): "All that has happened is that a slightly larger proportion of Taiwanese voters baulked at the provocation to Beijing they felt Chen was offering. Voters have done this before in much larger numbers, as in March this year, when they chose not to turn out for a referendum which Chen had devised as a test of national feeling. Taiwanese politics are misunderstood, however, if votes for the Nationalist camp are seen as votes for reunification. The polls have shown for a long time that a large majority on Taiwan want their society to remain separate from the mainland of China. The vote this time shows not a repudiation of Taiwan's separate path, but rather a fear of war and anxiety about upsetting the economic relationship with the Peoples Republic."
Peter Sturm opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/20): "The latest elections in Taiwan could result in a relaxation of tensions with China. Nevertheless, the U.S. is well-advised not to consider this inevitable. This is the context for sending of army members to the unofficial U.S. mission in Taipei. Beijing frequently said it reserves the right to invade if 'separatists' continued their path to independence. With its permanent threats, Beijing already achieved a deterring effect. Now Washington wants to show that it does not necessarily dance to China's tune. It would not be detrimental if the rulers in Beijing understood this and returned to a reasonable Taiwan policy. In addition, Washington's step points to a problem that has rarely been addressed. China is modernizing its arms. No one will be able to stop it from doing so. But the question must be allowed whether Europe, for instance, should help China do this by exporting arms."
Peter Sturm argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/14): "This could have been expected. The People's Republic of China is satisfied with the outcome of the Taiwanese parliamentary elections. This has less to do with the real development in the Taiwan but with Taiwan's President Chan Shui-bian. Beijing styled him up as a symbol of a 'separatist' policy. That is why China automatically cheers at everything that looks like a setback for Chen. Indeed, it seems that the lust of the Taiwanese president to embark on new enterprises has now been reined in. But the election winners from the weekend are not willing to subject to Beijing either. Therefore, the tone in relations is likely to become more committal, but with respect to the substance itself, little will change. If nothing changes, Beijing must come up with a political solution.... Its policy should at least not be confined to blunt threats. And some day in the future the unthinkable must also be thought. If the Taiwanese by no means want to return to the Chinese 'empire,' then they must have a right to do so."
Kai Strittmatter averred in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/13): "We cannot be really happy about the outcome of the elections: We must fear that the opposition party KMT will be laboring under the misapprehension that the voters voted for their program and their personnel, because they only wanted a counterweight to President Chen's risky policy towards China. But this would be fatal because the KMT is as self-righteous as the governing party; because it will now again put off its own reforms and because Taiwan is again confronted with a run down opposition, which has still not accepted that the president is no longer from its ranks. Whatever we think of Chen's plans, in one respect he is right: Taiwan urgently needs reforms. But now the country is faced even more with a blockade policy and even shriller confrontations."
Harald Maass opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (12/13): "The governments in Beijing and Washington are relieved since Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian and his governing party missed the majority in parliamentary elections.... Nevertheless, the outcome of the elections should not be overestimated, since Chen's party continues to remain the strongest part y in parliament. With the support of his voters, Chen will not swerve from his course to strengthen Taiwan's national identity.... China's leaders, who consider Taiwan a secessionist province and part of the People's Republic, threaten war if Taiwan makes itself formally independent.... It may be possible that Beijing's threat will prevent the amendment to the Constitution in 2008, but Beijing is unable to stop the trend: through its culture, language and a vivid democracy since 1949, Taiwan has set up a national identity. As long as the Chinese leadership does not acknowledges this development, the Taiwan question remains a security risk in Asia."
ITALY: "Yes To Policy For A Single China"
Federico Rampini wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (12/12): “Yesterday, Taiwanese voters surprisingly opted for a choice that has cooled tensions with Beijing, and placated U.S. concerns: the Democratic Progressive Party of President Chen Shui-bian, who was in favor of independence, did not obtain the legislative majority that it expected.... It would be impossible for an outside observer to understand why they would be willing to risk a world war over the issue of formal independence--because a treaty binding the U.S. to Taiwan would force the U.S. to defend it from a Chinese invasion--when in fact the island has gone its separate way for half a century, developing its own identity even on a cultural level. Unification could be an attractive option if China becomes a democracy like Taiwan did in the 80s. Instead the formula ‘one nation, two systems’ that Beijing is proposing is unconvincing, especially in light of the way it was applied in Hong Kong where citizens still do not enjoy full political rights.”
"Shift In Taiwan, Independents Defeated"
Maria Grazia Coggiola observed in leading, center-right Il Giornale (12/12): "According to some commentators, the outcome of the vote was a result of Taiwanese fears of negative repercussions of Chen's pro-independence agenda. Economic reasons also came into play. Over this past year, the trade boom with the mainland provided momentum to recovery, and the business community...in Taiwan prefers good-neighbor relations to a perennial tug-of-war.... The U.S. as well wants to maintain the status quo. In the past, it had criticized President Chen's plans for reform and independence."
RUSSIA: "Taiwan Votes For Peace"
Aleksandr Lomanov said in reformist Vremya Novostey (12/15): "People are tired of radical policies and don't want to fight wars. Extremism has only deepened the split in society. The DPP's obsession with desinicizing culture to the detriment of the economy and relations with the mainland caused voters to support the opposition."
SPAIN: "Objective, Beijing"
Left-of-center El País editorialized (12/12): "China has become the second trade partner of the EU, and the EU, with its enlargement to 25, has become China's first exporting market. The EU logically intends to increase relations with the Asian colossus, bound to become the first economic power of the continent ahead of Japan, and the second in the world, rivaling the U.S.... For a long time, Beijing has been a must visit for European leaders and businessmen.... It is not strange that Chirac and Schröder have become the great leaders in the EU for the lifting of the arms ban against China, which has been into effect since the grave incidents at Tiananmen square in 1989. The idea is supported by most of European partners, including Spain, but still arouses the distrust of the UK and the Scandinavian countries, worried for the poor situation of human rights. The U.S. is putting pressure against, because it is afraid it will mean a subsequent threat for Taiwan. The issue was not solved at the last Chinese-European summit last week, but it is a question of time."
CANADA: "Chen's Setback In Taiwan Vote Eases Tensions, For Now"
Jonathan Manthorpe commented in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (12/15): "Beijing is taking a far more realistic view than is Washington of the implications of weekend elections on Taiwan when President Chen Shui-bian's anti-China party failed to win a parliamentary majority. American administration officials and their supporters in academia have breathed a sigh of relief. Their view is the results have removed a potential headache for Washington by making it more difficult for Chen to pursue his aim of getting the island's independence internationally recognized. The United States is legally bound to help defend Taiwan, and China, which claims to own the island and its 23 million people, is persistent in threatening to invade. So there is relief that Chen now appears hobbled and is unlikely to be able to provoke China by galloping ahead with his policies of constitutional reform and ever more enhancement of Taiwan as a distinct society and nation.... While Chen and his political strategists mull over in the next few months the implications of Saturday's vote, Taiwan will fade as an irritant between Beijing and Washington. But Chen does not suffer from lack of self-esteem and, as Beijing rightly suspects, he will be back with a new strategy for the island."
"Taiwan's Shrewd Vote"
The liberal Toronto Star contended (12/15): "Broadly, the Nationalists favour the status quo under which Taiwan practices, but does not proclaim, independence. Acknowledging the rebuff, Chen resigned yesterday as party leader, promising to act as a 'president for all the people,' and to 'review and readjust' his policy. That seems right.... China's fast-modernizing but politically backward Communist leaders want reunification under the current regime. Taipei leaders, understandably, hope to defer it until the mainland has embraced democracy. In the meantime, Taiwan's vibrant democracy and flourishing economy are best protected by not upsetting the status quo. That was the Taiwanese voters' shrewd judgment."
"Exporters Of Democracy Should Be Colour Blind"
David Warren observed in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (12/11): "Why...are we only interested in whether Ukrainians may vote freely? Why aren't we equally engaged--emotionally, intellectually, and morally--when freedom, independence, and democracy are at issue in many other countries? I will tell you, but you won't like the answer. It is because the Ukrainians are white people, and the other candidates for democratization are yellow and brown. This is especially so in Western Europe--and nowhere more than in France--where the whole idea of spreading democracy beyond 'our common European home' is characteristically met with anti-American sneering.... For the people struggling to make or preserve democratic gains, in more exotic climes, it's the Bush administration or nothing. There is no huge Western media uproar about Zimbabwe, for instance. Or about Taiwan, where the election for the Legislative Yuan is taking place today, in which there is a good chance the 'Pan-Green' coalition, which wants a free and independent Taiwan, may edge out the 'Pan-Blue' coalition, consisting of the descendants of the old Kuomintang, whose leaders increasingly advocate appeasement of, and political integration with, mainland China.... In the time since I last wrote about this issue, the Red Chinese have added at least another hundred surface-to-surface missiles on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, pointed at the island's cities and infrastructure. It is a very crude weight, indeed. But do we care about this? Not that I've heard."
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|