March 14, 2005
CHINA: TUNG REMOVAL, ANTI-SECESSION LAW 'RAISE INTERNATIONAL CONCERN'
** Hong Kong chief Tung failed to lead Hong Kong "in one direction."
** Papers call legitimacy of Hong Kong's "'electoral reforms" into question.
** Anti-secession law causes concern by providing "justification" for Chinese military action.
** Possible termination of EU's weapons embargo on China is "not understandable."
Tung 'performed poorly'-- Most Hong Kong outlets agreed that Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was an "honest" leader, but that he was "not up to the task" of Chief Executive; one writer suggested that it "was too much for Tung to control Hong Kong's economy." Outlets opined that Tung did not "listen to public opinion" or "communicate and unite the public," and therefore could not "pull the cohesive force of Hong Kong" together. Some local papers defended Tung, noting that he "led Hong Kong during tough and troubled times." Independent Hong Kong Economic Journal argued that Tung had resolved "potentially serious clashes."
China undermined 'one party, two systems framework'-- After the appointment of Donald Tsang as a temporary replacement, commentators were upset by Hong Kong's "lack of participation in the election process." A British journalist advised Beijing to "acknowledge democratic demands," while a German writer said the appointment of Tsang was an "elegant way" to "postpone...electoral reforms." Hong Kong's independent Standard observed that "the action wasn't taken in Hong Kong and Hong Kong isn't picking his successor." Other HK outlets claimed that Beijing was "twisting" the Basic Law but pro-PRC writers claimed China was taking the only "legal" option, and called on the public to support of Tsang.
Anti-seccession law could create 'powder keg'-- Euro papers agreed the law would introduce "a new quality in intimidating Taiwan." They cautioned that "an attack on Taiwan would be no domestic affair." One writer judged that "the law might legalize an attack on Taiwan in China - but it would never make it legitimate." Japan's financial Nikkei urged China to "reconsider the legislation." The official China Daily reassured, "'non-peaceful means' are defined only as a last resort." Other pro-PRC papers claimed the law's goal is "peaceful unification," and that if the "Taiwanese people do not stop separatists...war will be inevitable." An independent HK daily saw the law as "a legal justification for going to war." Taiwanese outlets sought international support to "counter and balance" China's actions.
Doubts over 'lifting of the arms embargo'-- Euro outlets found it "difficult to understand why Europeans, Germany and France in particular, are pushing for an end of the embargo." Writers agreed that "there is no guarantee that China's rise" will remain "peaceful," and that lifting the embargo would "change the power balance between Taiwan and China to Beijing's advantage." Austria's centrist Die Presse cautioned, "Europe really has to be careful not to lose all credibility...just for the sake of doing business." An Aussie writer stated, "we can be...partners with the Chinese and still prefer they not get the latest whizz-bang military technology."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: David Meyers
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 78 reports from 15 countries over 8 - 14 March 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "U.S. And Japan Keep Close Eye On China’s Anti-Secession Law"
Xia Mu noted in Elite Reference (3/9): “China Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Qian stated that certain country’s leaders comments on the Mainland’s Anti-Secession Law are unhelpful and unreasonable. Mr. Kong is clearly referring to the U.S. and Japan.... Recent U.S.-Japan activities are probably not coincidences. While Mainland leaders are discussing the Anti-Secession Law, the U.S. and Japan are making moves in the western Pacific. The U.S. clearly wants to pull Japan in on the Taiwan issue. The U.S. and Japan are joining hands to deter China from reunification with Taiwan. They want to counter the Anti-Secession Law. Once the law draft is passed, pro-Taiwan U.S. congressmen will undoubtedly attack China. China should be fully prepared for it.”
"Anti-Secession Law Merely Will Of People"
The official English-language China Daily stated (3/9): " Some politicians in Taiwan want international observers to view Beijing as a new source of threat to peace.... The fact is, however, that leaders of the Chinese mainland have always expressed their sincerity in seeking a peaceful solution through talks across the Taiwan Straits. And in the draft anti-secession bill, 'non-peaceful' means are defined only as a last resort. So, China would only deploy non-peaceful means should all efforts for peaceful reunification prove futile. The mainland has taken many actions to back up its preference for peace. And some talks did take place in the 1990s. Also, in 1992, representatives from both sides signed an informal agreement.... But, under Chen Shui-bian, the current Democratic Progressive Party administration does not seem to want to take the 1992 consensus any further, and from time to time, fervently backpedal.... If, as some Taiwan politicians told Western journalists, the Chinese anti-secession law is a law to be made, interpreted and executed by the same people, they are in a way quite correct. Few things can better unite the Chinese as a nation than the peaceful reunification of the motherland. The law shows their will and shared interests.... On the other hand, when did the Taiwan secessionists remember to consult with the 1.3 billion people in the mainland in their push for independence from China? And what is surprising if a law governing a Chinese issue is to be made by the Chinese? Who might be better suited for the job? Taiwan is part of China and Chinese lawmakers are making a law for it. Nothing less and nothing more.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Politics Comes First Again"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post's editor remarked (3/14): "Fears of a legal row over the length of term of the next chief executive have cast a shadow over the first transition of power in post-colonial Hong Kong. In a sharp about-turn from its longstanding view, the government announced on Saturday that it would move an amendment to the law covering the election of the chief executive so that Tung Chee-hwa's successor would serve just the two remaining years of his term.... The government's swift U-turn raises serious questions about the integrity and credibility of its law-making process.... Given the fact that the present law clearly states a five-year term for a new chief executive, it is inconceivable that the issue has never been raised by the mainland government if it was a clear breach of the legislative intent in the Basic Law, as has been claimed. One can only conclude that the controversy, dressed up as an inevitable conflict between two legal systems, stems from Beijing's need for a two-year period to ensure what mainland leaders consider to be a smooth transition at the top."
"By Twisting The Original Plan, How Can The Election Be Fair?"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/14): "We believe that the Basic Law is Hong Kong's constitution--the cornerstone for the 'one country, two systems' framework. Anyone--and especially the Hong Kong government--should respect and adhere to the provisions of the Basic Law. One should not avail oneself of legal loopholes, nor should one wantonly add explanations that are not in the Basic Law. Otherwise, the Basic Law's authority will be crippled. This may even deal a blow to Hong Kong's rule of law and the political order. For political expedience, however, Mr. Tsang and Secretary Elsie Leung are twisting the meaning of the Basic Law and giving it new provisions. Violating the Basic Law by not following the original plan to elect the Chief Executive will only damage the credibility of the Chief Executive election. How can this not harm the foundation of the rule of law in Hong Kong?"
"Turning Enemies Into Friends Will Bring Lasting Political Stability"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News editorialized (3/14): "Donald Tsang has formally assumed the post of acting Chief Executive. Political circles generally anticipate that Donald Tsang will be elected unopposed by the 800-strong Election Committee to become the new Chief Executive. His big test will be handling the political contradictions between the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing factions. There are two roads in front of him. First, he can help the pro-Beijing camp to suppress the democratic group to show his political loyalty to the central government and win Beijing's blessing for the Chief Executive post for five more years. The pro-democracy group, however, has 60% of public support. If Donald Tsang were to take that path, he may follow in Tung Chee-hwa's footsteps and see his popularity fall from the peak. The second road would be to try his best to settle the conflicts between the central government and the pro-democracy camp. He should try to normalize their relations and encourage constitutional development in Hong Kong. In this way, he will be respected by the Hong Kong people forever."
"Debates Expected Over Term Length"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News wrote (3/14): "Yesterday, more than 20 legislators from the democracy camp held a meeting. They did not dismiss the possibility of taking legal action over the duration of the new Chief Executive's term. According to the present situation, they are still very cautious. Any legal debate could trigger results that no one wants. Hong Kong is known for its freedom and the rule of law. As long as a process is legal, anyone will follow it. If the democratic legislators cannot accept the tenure of the Chief Executive as being two years, they therefore have the right to take legal action. Before doing so, however, there are three things they must consider. The first is mainstream public opinion regarding the Chief Executive's term length.... The second is the need to be open and above-board before pursuing legal action. The democrats should take their time and allow the government enough time to deal with it. They should not repeat the Link REIT case by taking surprise legal action at the last minute.... Third, there are many legal experts among the middle class pro-democracy camp. If they take legal action, they should act themselves, not have an elderly person do their dirty work (as was down in the Link REIT case).... In brief, Hong Kong has a healthy legal system. It is highly praised both domestically and internationally. As long as a reasonable rationale can be given, people will support it. In this way, any problems can be solved."
"All Parties Should Support Donald Tsang"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked in an editorial (3/14): "Today is the first working day for new acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang and marks the first important change of leadership in Hong Kong since the handover. It is therefore an important and sensitive moment for the Hong Kong government and 'one country, two systems' framework. At this important moment, we must call on the public and members of different sectors of society to abandon their prejudice and concerns regardless of their opinions. They should unite together to wholeheartedly support Donald Tsang to lead the SAR government."
"A Deft Operator Left Holding A Weak Hand"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (3/13): "A new chapter is opening in Hong Kong's history. Everyone will hope it will be one that sees our city move on from the often troubled times under Tung Chee-hwa to a steadier and brighter future. The responsibility for leading the way will fall mainly on the shoulders of one man: Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. Mr. Tsang has taken over as acting chief executive until an election in July, which he must be hotly favored to win. The popular public servant will benefit from a strong desire among Hong Kong people for a new face at the top. We need a fresh start and Mr. Tsang will begin his job with a large reservoir of goodwill. He will be given a fair chance to show he is the best man for the job. But the honeymoon period may be short. Mr. Tsang will inherit an array of problems and face difficulties that his predecessor did not encounter. Beijing has not dealt the next leader a strong hand. The Hong Kong government announced yesterday that the new chief executive would serve only a two-year term. This is a flagrant breach of the Basic Law. It means that the chief executive will start off with a term of office that is unconstitutional. The leader already has to operate without a genuine mandate from the people. Now, he has also been deprived of the legitimacy which adherence to the Basic Law would give him. Political expediency has been allowed to prevail over the rule of law. It is, in this sense, a sad day for Hong Kong."
"Legislate First, Discuss Legal Interpretation Later"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News opined (3/13): "The sudden resignation of the Chief Executive has prompted a debate over the tenure of his successor. The central and Hong Kong governments obviously have different opinions. To prevent these differences from triggering a constitutional crisis, the Hong Kong government took the initiative of suggesting an amendment to the 'Chief Executive Election Law,' introducing the concept of serving the remainder of the predecessor's term. If legal challenges continue to occur, the NPC can interpret the Basic law. Making the law first and interpreting it later will avoid any impact on the constitutional system of China and Hong Kong. However, from the angle of 'Hong Kong people running Hong Kong' under 'a high degree of autonomy,' this is a helpless compromise. Once again, it shows the political fact that the central government is guiding the political development in Hong Kong."
"Bad Luck And Bad Judgment"
The independent South China Morning Post said in an editorial (3/11): "History will be the final judge of Tung Chee-hwa's tenure as the chief executive of Hong Kong. And it may be, as he believes, that history will treat him more kindly than most of his contemporaries. Mr. Tung led Hong Kong during tough and troubled times. The public judgment now is that he was not up to the task. But the muted response to his long-awaited resignation suggests that many realize the task would have been beyond most leaders.... Mr. Tung will be remembered as a hard-working, honest leader with a profound sense of duty and great loyalty to Beijing. But he will also be seen as a politically inept and indecisive chief executive who failed to adequately stand up for Hong Kong. Sadly, he did not have the considerable skills required to meet the enormous challenges that confronted him.... Mr. Tung was a good figurehead for Hong Kong's transition. He was known and respected overseas and had worked hard to maintain good relations with Beijing. Despite all the problems of the past eight years, Hong Kong remains a vibrant, free and pluralistic part of China (despite the fears of many before the handover). His work to advance Hong Kong's economic integration with the rest of China has helped the economy now and may be his most lasting legacy. But his failings cannot be overlooked. And his mistakes should not be repeated. Mr. Tung's successor will, it is hoped, learn from them--and give Hong Kong the strong and skilful leadership needed to face the challenges ahead."
"More Than A Personal Failure"
The independent South China Morning Post's C.K. Lau wrote (3/11): "Compared with the voluminous coverage of [the Chief Executive's] failings, there has been relatively little attention paid to how the faults of Hong Kong's political system have aggravated the pressure that any minor row could impose on him as the city's leader. For reasons of history, Hong Kong is provided with a system that pits an unelected administration against an elected legislature. Whereas the administration sees its role as guarding the interests of the whole community, it is often subject to politically motivated attacks by elected legislators. It is not that the legislators are bent on causing trouble, but their frustration at being constitutionally barred from playing any significant role in policy-making has, at times, driven them to go over the top in criticizing the administration.... In the words of University of Hong Kong professor John Burns, Hong Kong has a disarticulated political system that fails to translate the public will to become the mandate of its leader. Unfortunately, there are, as yet, no signs that the central government, though aware of the problem, is prepared to fix the faults of the system."
"Pragmatism Rules, But Expect A Rough Ride"
Chris Yeung remarked in the independent South China Morning Post (3/11): "By agreeing to an early exit for Mr. Tung, Beijing appears determined to right the wrongs of its approach towards Hong Kong, and to avoid uncertainties that could have emerged under two more years of Mr. Tung. The likely successor, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, may be merely a transitional housekeeper. The fact that Beijing shrugged off his association with colonialism reflects the performance-oriented approach of President Hu Jintao. Whether we are returning to a civil service-led system is unclear. But suggestions that former high-ranking official Rafael Hui Si-yan will come out of retirement to replace Mr. Tsang if he wins the top job shows Beijing is likely to bring back the colonial administrative model--at least for a while. This is seen as the most practical way to raise the quality of governance and reduce public disquiet.... The city will be feeling political fatigue mixed with a degree of relief over the replacement of Mr. Tung. But power struggles in the public arena and behind the scenes are likely to make Hong Kong politics and mainland-Hong Kong relations more volatile."
"Road Map For New Chief To Steer Clear Of Past Mistake"
The independent South China Morning Post argued (3/11): "Mr. Tsang is facing deadline pressure as he needs to use the next two years to prove his leadership skills, unite a politically divided community and steer the recovering economy onto a healthier path. Inevitably, Mr. Tsang's foremost challenge is to ensure political stability by keeping and winning the confidence of the existing team of top government officials. Mr. Tsang must strengthen communications and build loyalty with the central government while being acutely aware of Hong Kong's interests.... In the face of those challenges, Mr. Tsang must learn from Mr. Tung's mistakes and one or two things from late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. One fundamental reason behind the mainland's rapid economic growth over the past 20 years has been Mr. Deng's preaching of 'don't get involved in debates and just focus upon doing things.'"
"The Biggest Little City In China"
John Berthelsen commented in the independent Standard (3/11): "Once the tumult dies down and Donald Tsang is installed as chief executive to replace Tung Chee-hwa, they should probably rename the position the Office of the Mayor of Hong Kong and let it go at that. And while we're at it, the Legislative Council should be renamed the Hong Kong City Council. That is because the last two weeks should have taught the SAR (Special Administrative Region) one important lesson. From a governing standpoint, Hong Kong is now little more than a Chinese city on the Pearl River Delta. Whether Tung quit or was fired--and the circumstances remain clouded--one thing is now clear. The action wasn't taken in Hong Kong and Hong Kong isn't picking his successor. Our mayor can be turfed out just like the mayor of any other Chinese city. We are one country, one system, 43 years early."
"Who Evaluates Tung's Performance?"
The independent Hong Kong Economic Journal editorialized (3/11): "During his press conference, Tung Chee-hwa said he had submitted his resignation yesterday afternoon. But why should he pick yesterday? Tung Chee-hwa said that his health had started to deteriorate during the third quarter of last year. He should have been ready to resign a long time ago and could have immediately made the decision to go and end speculation when news of his resignation spread last week. Why did he continue to put off the issue, waiting until yesterday to announce his open secret? The rumors of Tung's resignation started to spread following news of his nomination as vice-chairman of the CPPCC. To 'openly promote but actually demote' is a common Chinese political practice. As Tung Chee-hwa waited until the CPPCC nominated him as the vice-chairman before submitting his resignation, the timing could signify a political deal-–to resign in exchange for a state leader position. If this was the case, Tung Chee-hwa's claim of health reasons is just an excuse or part of the story. The Central government's intention in asking him to step down is very clear.... Following his resignation, we hope Mr. Tung will write his memoirs and share his experiences governing Hong Kong for the past seven years so that his successor can learn – and so that Hong Kong people can share his highs and lows as Chief Executive. Mr. Tung is not an excellent political leader. But his modest and amiable personality has helped him resolve potentially serious clashes. Hong Kong's political situation has been in turmoil, but the society could still operate smoothly. This may be Mr. Tung's biggest achievement in governing Hong Kong."
"Resignation: Neither Rain Nor Sunshine"
The independent Hong Kong Economic Times commented (3/11): "During the past few difficult years, Hong Kong needed a leader who could listen to public opinion, reassure and pacify the public and work to resolve difficulties together. It was a pity that Tung Chee-hwa viewed these tasks as public relations efforts and refused to do them. He did not realize they were necessary to unite and pacify the public. Without an understanding leader, the public felt the pain. They naturally expressed all their grievances at Tung Chee-hwa. He has finally resigned. But people must understand that problems Hong Kong has faced, such as economic transformation and conflicts between different sectors of society, were not caused entirely by Tung Chee-hwa – and they won't disappear with his resignation. It will be a good opportunity for the new Chief Executive to learn from past experience."
"Prospects For 'Two Systems' Are Not Good"
The mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (3/11): "We fear that Mr. Tung gave an unacceptable reason for his resignation as he wanted to hide the real reason he was 'asked to leave' by the central government. Mr. Tung was Hong Kong's first Chief Executive. How he exercised his power, communicated with and related to the central government, arranged his appointment and resignation all become precedents. This will affect the authority of this post and the work of future chief executives. If the first Chief Executive fails to finish his second term smoothly, if he is dismissed casually and replaced by the central government, if he is 'asked to leave' when the central government leadership changes -- if the first Chief Executive resigns because of an ambiguous reason, won't the situation of future chief executives be worse? Won't this lessen the space for political maneuvering for future chief executives? And won't this reduce the confidence of the public and international community in the 'one country, two systems' framework and Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy?"
"Future Chief Executive Should Respect Free Market"
The mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/11): "Obviously, Mr. Tung believed that by implementing a series of measures, the Hong Kong economy could be quickly transformed, with a new economic engine to drive the economy to a higher level. His policies, however, failed to bring about the expected results. On the contrary, they dealt a great blow to the government's governing authority. The future chief executive should fix this policy by allowing Hong Kong to return to being a free market economy to drive economic development. The new chief executive must understand that the economic miracles created by Hong Kong in the past had nothing to do with government intervention or industrial policies. They relied completely on the invisible hand of the free market."
"Number One Good Man, Not Number One Leader"
Independent Ming Pao Daily News had an editorial which observed (3/11): "Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa submitted his resignation to the central government yesterday. Under the leadership of Tung Chee-hwa for the past nearly eight years, the Hong Kong government experienced political and economic storms that had rarely been seen. Now, Hong Kong has gradually moved back on track. Looking back, people still feel shocked. Tung Chee-hwa is a kind, honest, conscientious leader with high integrity. But the government under his leadership has performed poorly in several major political tests. The Chief Executive failed to fulfill the task of implementing 'one country, two systems, with Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.' He therefore failed to win the recognition of the Hong Kong people.... In brief, Tung Chee-hwa has governed Hong Kong with the style and mentality of running a family business. He has overlooked the basic requirements of modern politics and public administration, and he overlooked the importance of communicating with the media, political parties and the public. He won individual battles but lost the war. These painful lessons should be carefully examined by the leaders of the central government and by his successor."
"Tung Chee-Hwa Has Finished His Historical Task"
Center-left Sing Pao Daily News wrote in an editorial (3/11): "Yesterday, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa held a press conference to announce his resignation, confirming rumors that had been circulating for days. Although the Chief Executive's resignation is a major development, Hong Kong is, after all, a modern society with a mature political and economic system. Moreover, news about the resignation had already been digested before the announcement. Tung's actual resignation will probably not create a great impact. The election for the new Chief Executive will be held soon, according to the Basic Law.... No matter the assessment of Tung Chee-hwa's performance, he has finished his historical task of implementing 'one country, two systems' and ensuring a smooth transition for Hong Kong. The central government is going to appoint him as the vice-chairman of the CPPCC. This is an affirmation of his historical status. The mistakes Tung made in the past seven years of running Hong Kong should be a lesson for his successor."
"Tung Contributed To Handover, But Policies Were Flawed"
Independent Sing Tao Daily News said in an editorial (3/11): "The major inadequacy of Tung Chee-hwa is that he was too ambitious when he first took his post. He hastily pushed forward too many reforms, touching the foundation of social stability. Taking the reforms individually, many Hong Kong people felt they were necessary. The government pushed forward too many of them, however, without adequate preparation. In the end, the lofty objectives were never achieved. Some of the reforms even caused chaos and triggered public grievances.... Before and after the handover, Hong Kong has always been a sensitive battleground for China and the west. Hong Kong is also an international financial center with a well-developed economy. It is a very difficult for the Chief Executive to govern such a complex place. From a historical angle, Tung Chee-hwa's achievement has been that he completed his task of leading Hong Kong's handover."
"Remove Remaining Evil Elements And Put The Government Back In Order"
Oriental Daily News and the mass-circulation Sun wrote a joint editorial (3/11): "Tung Chee-hwa has run Hong Kong for eight years. Hong Kong has been in chaotic situation during this time as Tung could not pull himself out of his stubborn style of indecisiveness. Even his resignation was dilatory.... In Tung Chee-hwa's last Policy Address, he hoped not to bring trouble and chaos to the country. Will the country be troubled and chaotic due with an indecisive vice-chairman of the CPPCC? Now we hope that the new Chief Executive will achieve Tung's goal, not bring troubles and chaos to the country.... Under the leadership of Tung Chee-hwa, the situation in Hong Kong has been tumultuous. There are many examples. Very few people, however, try to learn the underlying structural reasons. People said Tung Chee-hwa was incapable, and he was all alone when he was in power. He therefore could not control the various government departments. The whole picture, however, is thus: Tung failed to manage the situation because he was incapable and did not have enough loyal subordinates to support him.... The Hong Kong government still retains evils of remaining from the British colonial government. If the new Chief Executive wants to create a new situation, he must remove these evil remnants. Those sensitive departments that contain them are the Judiciary, the Police and the ICAC."
"Who Will Give A Fair Assessment?"
Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News noted in an editorial (3/11): "Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa resigned for health reasons, bringing his political life to an end. Although the society's reaction to the resignation has been mixed, Tung showed his political wisdom by knowing 'when to advance or retreat....' Some people subscribe to a 'conspiracy theory,' saying Tung was persuaded to resign by the Central government. Some also guessed that the (final) retirement of Jiang Zemin might have affected Tung's status. Many believe Tung made mistakes, but he also had achievements. He governed Hong Kong during a volatile era. At least the Hong Kong economy recovered by the time of his departure, and Tung's efforts should be ignored."
"Anti-Secession Law Will Bring Peace To The Taiwan Straits"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/10): "Why should there be such a law? The law is aimed at checking 'Taiwanese independence,' improving cross-strait relations, and maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits. Maintaining the status quo with peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits is just one step. Both sides can only move toward unification based on this foundation.... Some foreign powers, especially the U.S., want to intervene in Taiwan for their own interests. Now, these powers are making irresponsible remarks about the anti-secession law. NPC vice-chairman Wang Zhaoguo said that the Chinese government would not tolerate interference by any foreign countries on this issue. Even the U.S. administration well knows that if no action is taken to effectively check 'Taiwanese independence' separatists, they will become insatiable and upset the status quo. If something accidentally happens in the Taiwan Straits, the U.S. will be dragged into the water, too. This will do the U.S. no good."
"Admit You Got It Wrong, Beijing"
Frank Ching wrote the independent South China Morning Post (3/10): "Actually, there is much to be said for the position that when there is a vacancy brought about by resignation of the incumbent, the successor merely serves out the remainder of the term.... The problem is that there is little legal backing in the Basic Law for that position. The drafters simply forgot to take into consideration the possibility of an incumbent not serving out a full term. If Beijing now wants to bring Hong Kong practice into line with that in most other countries, the Basic Law will have to be amended. To amend the Basic Law for this reason would not bring about a public outcry. Hong Kong people would understand that a flaw had been discovered in the law that needs to be rectified. Unfortunately, however, Beijing does not like to admit that it makes mistakes. The danger is that it will act as though the Basic Law actually supports its position, when it does not.... It is good that Beijing realizes it should not make a habit of interpreting the Basic Law. However, in this case, it would be terrible for Beijing to take no action to provide legal backing for its decision. It would put the Basic Law into total disrepute."
"Public Not Convinced By Appointment Of Donald Tsang"
The conservative, pro-Hong Kong government Hong Kong Economic Times commented in an editorial (3/10): "There are rumors that the central government intends to let Chief Secretary Donald Tsang become the new Chief Executive. This is akin to electing someone before the election is held. If this is the case, Donald Tsang needs to raise his acceptability to the public in the next few months before the election of the new Chief Executive.... The public has no way to participate in the Chief Executive election, and the result is already decided. This turns the Hong Kong people into a passive audience without a choice. If the rumor is true that Donald Tsang has been anointed by the Central government to become the new Chief Executive, the public can accept the result but will be uneasy given their lack of participation in the election process. They may project their discontent onto Mr. Tsang. Although Mr. Tsang enjoys a high level of popularity, he may encounter obstacles in implementing his policies because of this discontent. This may even shorten his honeymoon period as the new Chief Executive.... The best solution would be for candidates to face the public during a campaign to explain their platforms and listen to public views. If the new Chief Executive wants to implement policies smoothly while stabilizing Hong Kong's political situation, he must first win the public's sincere acceptance and support."
"Resignation Rumors Should Be Clarified"
Apple Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/10): "Barring any last minute development, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa will announce his resignation today. Rumors about Chief Executive's resignation, which have been circulating for more than a week, will be confirmed. We have no way of knowing why Mr. Tung has waited until today to address the rumors of his resignation, but we the resignation of a Chief Executive is an important issue. Mr. Tung and the SAR government should provide an account of the situation as soon as possible to dismiss the concerns of the public and the international community. Mr. Tung's reaction to the week of rumors regarding his resignation has been too slow and is extremely irresponsible.... If Mr. Tung fails to provide a reasonable and comprehensive account of his decision to resign now, this will give rise to more rumors and speculation, creating greater political instability. People will doubt whether the 'one country, two systems' framework still exists."
"Settle Tenure Debate While Respecting Spirit Of The Law"
The center-left Sing Pao Daily News wrote in an editorial (3/10): "Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa will travel to Beijing this afternoon to attend the closing meeting of the CPPCC. Before leaving Hong Kong, Mr. Tung will hold a press conference to announce his resignation. Although the Chief Executive's resignation is almost finalized, public opinion is still divided on whether the new Chief Executive should serve for two or five years. According to the Basic Law and the legislative intent, there is no doubt that the tenure of a new Chief Executive should be two years (sic). An NPC reinterpretation or a judicial review would only cause more trouble for a smooth transition. All parties should respect the spirit of law and not to imbue the tenure of the next Chief Executive with political interests.... Since the provisions and the legal intent are very clear, if the NPC takes the initiative to interpret the law, people will feel that the mechanism of interpreting the law can be launched casually at any time. If Hong Kong disputes need to be settled by the NPC, the 'one country, two systems' framework will be hurt. But if people use judicial review to challenge the Basic Law and hamper the election procedure, the NPC may be forced to interpret the Basic Law after all. Political considerations should not be mixed with the spirit of the law, nor should politics override the law."
"Job Vacancy And Tenure Are Under Two Different Provisions"
The pro-PRC Ta Kung Pao remarked in an editorial (3/10): "It is obvious that if the term of a Chief Executive elected to fill a vacancy should be five years, this would have been written into the Basic Law. In other words, the Article 46 of the Basic Law should have been written in this way: 'The term of the Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive is five years. He can be reelected for a second term. A successor elected to fill (an unanticipated) vacancy of the incumbent will also enjoy a five-year term.' The fact is that the tenure of the Chief Executive elected to fill a vacancy is not included in the Article regarding the five-year term. In contrast, it is included in the Article regarding a 'short-term acting' Chief Executive. It can be proved that the tenure of the successor is not five years.... The tenure of the Chief Executive filling (an unanticipated) vacancy is a big issue. The NPC will therefore handle the issue seriously according to the Basic Law. The so-called 'political consideration' basically does not exist. As long as the Basic Law has already discussed the term of office, there is no need to interpret the law. The Basic Law does not state that the person filling the vacancy of the Chief Executive is five years, but it depends on the length of the remainder of his predecessor's term. Thus, why should the interpretation of the law be needed?"
"War Threat Could Be Catalyst For Diplomacy"
The independent South China Morning Post said in an editorial (3/10): "The anti-secession bill soon to be passed by the National People's Congress will turn the mainland's well-established policies on Taiwan into law.... But the law is of huge symbolic importance. The bottom line is that it provides a legal justification for going to war. Mainland leaders have been at great pains this week to stress that force would be used only as a last resort. But the bill has the potential to rock the cross-strait boat at a time when the waters had appeared to be calming.... Taiwan will be left in no doubt that Beijing is prepared to use force if Mr. Chen pushes for independence. The anti-secession law makes this clear. President Hu Jintao has, therefore, firmly established his nationalist credentials. Having done this, it might become easier for Mr. Hu to enter into dialogue that could bring about peaceful reunification, which is Beijing's key objective. But the strategy is a risky one. Taiwan has, understandably, reacted strongly to the bill and is planning large-scale military exercises to prepare for an attack. The stakes are as high as they possibly could be. The new law will not ease tensions. But it will, it is hoped, focus both sides on the need to talk - and to make sure that Beijing's non-peaceful measures are never used."
"Promotion Of Anti-Secession Law Should Be Enhanced"
Pro-PRC Hong Kong Commercial Daily wrote in an editorial (3/10): "Yesterday, the U.S. State Department's spokesperson said that the anti-secession law was 'not helpful' to cross-strait relations. Japan is also 'highly concerned' about the law and 'worried' that the law could impact on cross-strait relations. The wording of the preliminary reactions from the U.S. and Japan is very careful, and their profile is low. It shows that the intense diplomatic negotiations by Chinese officials and the related departments have been effective.... Since the Taiwan issue is closely related to regional as well as global peace and stability, countries within the region and around the world are concerned about the issue. It is therefore necessary to enhance the promotion of the anti-secession law and to strengthen political public relations and lobbying to explain to others the legal intent and objective of the law. China should comprehensively introduce the law's provisions to win support and understanding from more countries in the international community."
"Conditions For Resorting To Force"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal editorialialized (3/9): "Looking at the draft of the anti-secession law, most of the contents are about China's Taiwan policies. There is nothing new. However, Taiwan will definitely make an issue out of it. They will say that Beijing 'still has the intention to take military action against Taiwan.' Nevertheless, objectively speaking, the draft of the anti-secession law has not increased military risks in the Taiwan Strait. Yet, some Taiwanese scholars point out that the anti-secession law is the first step. Beijing is coming up with other laws to reject Taiwan independence. Apart from the anti-secession law, there may also be the 'state of emergency law' and the 'defense mobilization law.' The former allows Beijing to proclaim a state of emergency in provinces along the coast if a war in the Taiwan Strait breaks out and Beijing can make various military deployments. The later gives the state president and the chairman of the state Central Military Commission the power to decide military mobilizations. Whether this is true or not, those who are concerned about national conditions should pay attention. Nevertheless, judging merely from the draft yesterday, the leading thoughts in Beijing's Taiwan policy is to seek peace rather than war. Hence, those who worry about a possible war in the Taiwan Strait should not be too anxious."
"Anti-Secession Law Creates New Space For Cross-Strait Peace"
The center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News wrote in an editorial (3/9): "Subsequent to the state president Hu Jintao delivering the 'Hu four points' remarks, the draft of the 'anti-secession law was submitted to the National People Congress. On the one hand, the draft laid a clear bottom line for taking non-peaceful measures to safeguard sovereignty. On the other hand, the draft also provided a more relaxed and flexible measure to deal with the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. As long as Taiwan does not promote Taiwan independence legally, such as changing the constitution or the national emblem, the status quo of both sides across the strait belongs to one China will be able to be maintained. The draft has given a clear signal to the Taipei authority, the international community and even people across the strait. In the meantime, the draft has also given more space for the two sides at the strait to maintain peace. It is good for creating a new situation for the cross-strait relations."
"'Taiwan Independence' Forces Should Stop Splitting The Country"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked in an editorial (3/9): "From the contents of the draft, we can see the determination, goodwill and rationality of the 'anti-secession law' in peaceful unification and resolving the Taiwan issue. The law focuses on 'peace' and not 'military action.' The soul of the 'anti-secession law' is to make peaceful unification happen. This is a law to realize peaceful unification with the biggest sincerity, goodwill and determination from Beijing. The wordings of the law are peaceful and cautious. There is not one word about 'military action.' The 'non-peaceful means' is just a way to express its determination to 'safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity' and to stop 'Taiwan independence' separation moves. This shows that Beijing has always put peaceful unification in the first place."
"Drawing A Bottom Line Will Be Good For The Taiwan Strait"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po declared (3/9): "The anti-secession law shows that China has gradually taken the leading role in the cross-strait relations. The law aims at drawing a bottom line for the 'Taiwan independence' and using a legitimate way to stop 'Taiwan independence'. Furthermore, it wants to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and to make the outlook of the Taiwan Strait clearer. The law is conducive in safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. For the 'Taiwan independence' forces, the anti-secession law is a deterrent and pressure. For the people at the two sides of the Strait, the law is a safeguard for their interests especially the Taiwanese compatriots. It is believed that more and more Taiwanese compatriots will understand and recognize the law."
"Two Steps Forward, One Step Back"
Frank Ching commented in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (3/9): "Last month, when the U.S. and Japan for the first time issued a joint statement that mentioned Taiwan as a common security concern, Beijing was furious and accused them of interfering in its internal affairs. However, on Sunday, it became clear that the mainland government would not allow the incident to be an obstacle to developing Sino-U.S. relations.... Beijing, of course, continues to adhere to its principles, in particular where the sensitive issue of Taiwan is concerned. But the Chinese have also decided that they want good relations with the U.S. - perhaps not at any cost - but are willing to put up with a great deal.... In fact, China and the U.S. have, to a large extent, established a symbiotic economic relationship so that the acts of one party are likely to impact on the other. While America exhorts China to allow market forces to determine the value of the yuan, Chinese officials have also lectured Washington, telling it to put its own house in order rather than blame other people. This Chinese assertiveness reflects a greater sense of self-confidence and, in the long run, should lead to a healthier bilateral relationship."
"Anti-Secession Set a Line For Itself And Others"
The independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News editorializeed (3/9): "The mainland stipulates the anti-secession law to legally listing out the conditions for taking military action against Taiwan. In fact, the mainland has showed the Taiwan authority its bottom line. As long as the Taiwan authority does not go beyond the three conditions, the mainland will not have any legal ground to take military action against Taiwan. In other words, the mainland has given itself a restriction. If Taiwan can see Beijing's determination to pursue cross-strait peaceful unification and to stop Taiwan independence, and takes the initiative to separate with the radical Taiwan independence forces, even though there is no move to start cross-strait peaceful negotiations, cross-strait relations will not get worse. If the Taiwan authority does not change its attitude toward driving forward Taiwan independence, the cross-strait war will be inevitable. The Taiwan authority should think it over carefully and be prudent with its deeds."
"Draw A Peaceful Line For Taiwan Independence"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented in an editorial (3/9): "Yesterday, the National People Congress started to review the widely concerning 'anti-secession law.' The central government makes use of the legislation to clearly draw a bottom line for Taiwan independence. If the Taiwan independence movement goes beyond the bottom line, China will use a non-peaceful measure, according to the law. The stance of the central government is firm. The decision of whether war in the Taiwan Strait can be avoided or not is for the Chen Shui-bian government to decide.... The central government has already adopted a clear stance. Will the Taiwan Strait situation move toward peace or will it get tense? It will depend on the attitude of Taiwan and the U.S. If Taiwan's response is like the President of the Executive, Yuan Frank Hsieh, who suggested stepping up the amendment of the constitution or changing the national emblem due to Beijing's move to draft the anti-secession law, it will definitely speed up Taiwan independence and the situation will be more dangerous. If Taiwanese people do not stop separatists and even support them, war will be inevitable."
"Drafting An Anti-secession Law Will Lose Taiwanese People's Support"
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked (3/9): "Even though the Beijing government emphasized that they would only resort to force when there is no other alternative when it submitted the draft of the 'anti-secession law,' and even though the Beijing government emphasized that it would only resort to force to deal with cross-strait relations if all peaceful unification efforts were futile, and even though the Beijing government said that it would protect the lives and properties of the Taiwanese people, the 'anti-secession law' is still a major threat to the Taiwanese people and the international community.... As long as the Beijing government can win the trust from the Taiwanese people and as long as the Taiwanese people believe the good intentions of the Beijing government, cross-strait relations can have fundamental changes. And cross-strait interactions can get back on the right track. However, the Beijing government has suddenly brought up the 'anti-secession law' without any urgency. It has made the Taiwanese people resist and distrust the mainland more. In this way, how can the Beijing government win the trust of the Taiwanese people and how can it rely on the Taiwanese people to drive forward cross-strait relations?"
"Can Feel The Sincerity Of Peaceful Unification"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorialized (3/9): "Looking at the reaction of people toward the anti-secession law, we can see that the law has won the support of Chinese people inside and outside China. They think that the law is reasonable and legitimate. Besides, the law is necessary, timely and important. It reflects the will of the Chinese people and the law conforms to the basic interests of the Chinese nation. It will play an important role in bringing about peaceful unification of China. Since using legal measures to reject secession is a usual practice of the international community, and the law itself will bring about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region, it will gain the understanding and support of the international community.... The anti-secession law is not a 'war decree.' Its objection is not to 'gobble up Taiwan.' It is a law that encourages cross-strait negotiations based on the 'one China' principle. 'Non-peaceful' means are aimed at the Taiwan separatists when there have no alternative."
"The First Task Of Chief Executive's Successor Is To Unite Society"
The center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News wrote in an editorial (3/8): "Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa will announce that he will leave his post this week. After meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration, Donald Tsang, two days ago, Tung Chee-hwa met with other principal officials yesterday. It is generally believed that the transfer of power in the SAR government is in process. It is not clear whether the existing officials will go or not? It will also be decided soon. For Tung's successor, his chief task will be to stabilize the political situation and to keep unnecessary turbulence to the minimal. For Tung's good policies and initiatives, the new Chief Executive should keep them and continue to develop them. Besides, he should set right inadequacies by making an effort to consolidate community forces and to unify the ruling team."
"Shortening the Term is Equal to Volating the Original Plan"
The mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News remarked in an editorial (3/8): "The Basic Law clearly states that the Chief Executive, who is elected following a proper procedure, should serve a 5-year term. If Beijing shortens the term of the new Chief Executive to June 30, 2007, because of political expediency or political interests, it will only put the new Chief Executive in an embarrassing position because his term is improper. It will largely cripple the authority of the new Chief Executive and it will also give the public and the international community a feeling that the central government has twisted the Basic Law at will. We believe that this will cause inestimable and irrevocable damages to Hong Kong and to 'one country, two systems.'"
"Elect Two-Year Transitional Government; Review Accountability System"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed in an editorial (3/8): "Yesterday, State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan, who is in charge of Hong Kong affairs, and legal experts in the mainland said that if the Chief Executive post fell vacant, his successor should serve for two years instead of five years. Tang Jiaxuan is the most senior Chinese official that has showed his stance on the term of the new Chief Executive. It seems that the debate on the term of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's successor will be over soon.... In fact, a five-year term does not conform to the Basic Law Annex I. Besides, it will bypass NPC's reinterpretation of the Basic law regarding Hong Kong's constitutional reform in 2007/2008. Instead of studying the issue from these two angles, people are using the Chief Executive Election Ordinance to prove that the term of the Chief Executive is five years. Such a move only shows that people do not see the forest for the trees when they give such a narrow definition to the term of the Chief Executive. It will finally prove that such a definition is not workable.... For a transitional government, it is not suitable to have a major reshuffle of the ruling term because he cannot make a major reshuffle while continuing the tasks of his predecessor.... However, even if the major officials remain unchanged, it is still a major task for the future Chief Executive to review the accountability system."
"New Chief Executive Should Unite the Community"
The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented in an editorial (3/8): "Among all the policy fallacies of Tung Chee-hwa, the most serious fallacies are: he failed to communicate and unite the public and all sectors and he failed to take care of the interests of all sectors. He believed that the above jobs are just public relations and he did not want to do that. He has underestimated the importance of communicating and uniting the public. He did not know that these are fundamental factors for carrying out policies smoothly. As a result, no matter whether his policies had good intentions or not, they still aroused widespread indignation and discontent. In order to change the situation, the new Chief Executive must focus on 'unity.' First, he must rebuild a good relationship between the government and the middle class.... Second, he must deal with all sectors fairly, such as balancing the interests of the business circle.... Third, to properly handle the relationship with the opposition party."
TAIWAN: "Counter And Balance China’s Anti-Secession Law"
James Wang wrote in pro-independence Taiwan Daily (3/14): “No matter how China tries to explain or cover it up, the anti-secession law does not merely involve issues concerning Taiwan’s interests, but also seriously provokes Washington’s understanding of the normalization of U.S.-China relations, the United States’ vital interests as well as its laws. The anti-secession law has fundamentally challenged two major U.S. policies toward the Taiwan Strait: the facts that the United States has not acknowledged China or PRC’s sovereignty over Taiwan, and that cross-Strait differences should be solved peacefully.... The United States and Japan should re-evaluate the out-of-date ‘one China’ policy, and review again the fact of Taiwan’s democratization and the wills of the people in Taiwan. They should also face China’s hegemonic mentality and its attempt to ruin the more than 50 years’ status quo in East Asia. The United States should also realize that its refusal to recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state for 26 years has only fostered China’s ambition to ruin the status quo and to annex Taiwan. The United States does not want to see Taiwan adopt drastic countermeasures, but and the most appropriate, most efficient and most timely fashioned way is to coordinate other democracies to establish normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and to officially recognize Taiwan’s current status as a sovereign state in the name of ‘Republic of China.’”
"Use Democracy To Counter PRC ‘Law’"
The pro-independence Taiwan News (3/14) argued: "Since the ‘anti-secession law’ poses a ‘clear and present’ danger and threat not only to the people of Taiwan but also to regional peace and stability, the DPP government should also ask for more explicit support from the international community, especially the U.S. and Japan, to protect our hard-won democracy in the face of Beijing’s militarism and unilateralism. Incorporation of Taiwan into the U.S.-Japan security dialogue and the passage of proactive legislation to safeguard Taiwan’s security in the face of this qualitatively new threat are steps that should be fostered."
"Taiwan Should Make More Prior Arrangements For Cross-Strait Situation"
Washington correspondent Nadia Tsao wrote in the pro-independence Liberty Times (3/13): “Beijing’s attempt to adopt anti-secession law, especially the non-peaceful measures to solve the Taiwan issue, will force the United States, Japan, and the European Union to seriously ponder on the possibility of a war breaking out across the Taiwan Strait. They will also contemplate on the contingency plans and the possible damage a cross-Strait war may bring to the entire regional balance, and as a result, their cooperation with Taiwan would only be strengthened. Former U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell once said the way Beijing adopts to resolve the cross-Strait issue will influence how other countries view China’s emergence. China’s insistence on pushing for the passage of the anti-secession law is in reality promoting the credibility of the China threat theory to the international community. Other than making use of the current situation and putting hope in the United States and Japan, Taiwan should work harder on its relations with the Asian countries which still keep silent or even acquiesce to China’s position.”
"The Only Way To Love Taiwan"
The centrist, pro-status quo China Times editorialized (3/12): “[W]hen it comes to [the issue that] the Republic of China (ROC) is not tantamount to Taiwan independence, it is in fact a position that we have advocated for many years. As for anti-separation, needless [for Beijing] to day, we have always been opposed to the splittism movements pushing for Taiwan independence. For the part of the ROC, the idea to establish another independent country [other than the ROC] is more than a betrayal for the ROC; moreover, it has never become a mainstream public view in Taiwan’s politically diverse society. Besides, in terms of political reality, the pursuit of Taiwan independence and building a new country will only evoke irrational use of force from Beijing and lead Taiwan to an immediate disaster. This is certainly not an action that a responsible government should do."
"To Protect Taiwan"
Pro-independence Liberty Times editorialized (3/11): “[I]t is easier to tell that the joint statement released by [President] Chen and [PFP Chairman] James Soong signifies a victory for Soong in embracing the one China principle, while it indicates a failure for Chen to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty. Neither Chen’s Five Nos pledge nor the Chen-Soong joint statement has effectively defended Taiwan’s sovereignty; instead, they have offered a handle for China to use to threaten Taiwan and to legitimately enact an ‘anti-secession law.’ To put it more bluntly, the joint statement between Chen and Soong will do more harm than the Five Nos pledge in killing Taiwan’s chance of survival. Now the DPP, spurred by the ‘anti-secession law’ which has endorsed [China’s] use of force against Taiwan, acts as if it has just woken up from a long sleep and said it wants to host a mass rally for peace and democracy and to protect Taiwan. We support such an idea and call on President Chen and both the ruling and opposition parties to stand up and join hands in defending Taiwan’s sovereignty. Only by doing so can we really achieve the goal of ‘protecting Taiwan.’”
"United States Shuttles Back And Forth Across The Taiwan Strait"
Liu Ping wrote in the centrist, pro-status quo China Times” (3/10): “Regarding the ‘anti-secession law,’ the U.S. strategy is quite clear, that is to oppose any use of force across the Taiwan Strait, and any unilateral change in the status quo. Tactically, the United States has been engaging both China and Taiwan at the same time. On the one hand, the United States hopes that the Chinese authorities would have second thoughts and [decide it is] better not to have the law legislated; on the other hand, the United States urges Taiwan remain calm."
"Behind the Carrot, The United States Is Waving Big Stick"
Vincent Chang of the conservative/pro-unification United Daily News commented (3/10): “Therefore, what worries Washington is, in fact, Taiwan’s reaction. Washington certainly does not want to see Taiwan’s rejection and follow-up moves against the anti-secession law move up to a certain degree and become a trigger to activate the anti-secession law. Although the United States appears to be on Taipei’s side, the comment [by the United States] of no ‘anti- and counter-anti’ moves is mainly aimed at Taipei. Even [U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State] Randy Schriver made it clear that [the United States] hopes Taipei will ‘make contributions’ to moving toward ‘the correct direction’ and not ‘go in the wrong direction’ like China. The hard fact is that Washington’s stick cannot stop Beijing from making the law but is forcing Taipei to take the ‘correct direction’ under the shadow of the stick. While Beijing continues to stride in the ‘wrong direction,’ Taipei can only [face] to reality and make ‘self-restraining contributions.’”
"People Are Waiting Expectantly"
Pro-independence Liberty Times editorialized (3/10): “These days, we are deeply concerned about the aberration of the ruling DPP after the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian and PFP Chairman James Soong. For the sake of the interests of all the people of Taiwan, we have harshly and justly criticized the DPP’s loss of direction. The fact of the anti-secession law proves that Taiwan’s political parties are all wrong regarding their pro-China stances. Taiwan’s current situation is extremely difficult, and we can no longer be beguiled by any small favors from China such as cross-Strait charter flights for the Lunar New Year. Taiwan should not be careless about this crisis. It is time [for Taiwan] to conduct a thorough review of its cross-Strait economic and financial policies that carry the name of ‘effective management,’ but in reality are ‘proactively opened’ and tilted toward China. The review will assure Taiwan’s national security and make sure businesses remain in Taiwan. By so doing, Taiwan can keep the capability to defend itself when China uses force against Taiwan. More importantly, the anti-annexation plan cannot [consist] merely of slogans. The government should propose concrete and firm plans to counter China effectively. The Taiwanization movement should continue. President Chen Shui-bian should keep his promise and lead a rally of half a million Taiwan people March 26 to protest China’s legislation of a bully law that is aimed at annexing Taiwan. The people of Taiwan look forward to having every political party attend the rally and speak out loud to the world the voice of the people of Taiwan.”
"Republic Of China Has Always Been ‘Anti-secession’"
The editorial of centrist/pro-status quo China Times said (3/10): “According to its Constitution and system [of governance], the Republic of China (ROC) has always been ‘anti-independence’ and has insisted on ‘anti-secession.’ How can there be any ‘secession’ issue? And there is certainly no need for Beijing’s National People’s Congress to define or set rules for Taiwan regarding what conditions equal ‘secession’ and what situations equal ‘Taiwan independence.'... Indeed, there is a not insignificant percentage of people in Taiwan who favor Taiwan independence. The Beijing authority has also repeatedly claimed that their insistence in enacting the anti-secession law was forced by certain Taiwanese who want to achieve ‘de jure independence’ by holding referendums or instituting a new constitution. Has Beijing ever thought about why the advocacy for independence keeps growing in Taiwan? Is it not a result of the fact that the ROC has been deprived of its international position? When the ROC is forced to disappear in the international community and cannot go beyond its door, how can this be not providing the richest soil for promoting a new constitution and a change of national name? Does Beijing not know that it is exactly its own deeds that are the strongest driving force, which is likely to lead to Taiwan’s separation from China?... The Beijing authority has never realized that the ROC is the only common ground agreed to by both the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan now, as reconfirmed by the recent Chen Shui-bian and James Soong meeting. Among the various entanglements, it is the only historical umbilical cord between the two sides of the Strait. The only way to resolve the fast knot of cross-Strait political disputes and the crisis of cross-Strait separation is to take a positive view toward the ROC."
"The World That Can Say 'No'"
The English-language pro-independence Taipei Times stated (3/9): "Infamous for its impotence and self-importance, China's National People's Congress (NPC) seems to exist in an imperial haze.... Beijing has yet to learn the lesson from the failure of verbal attacks and military threats in the past. The reasoning behind the bill mentions 'non-peaceful' means to resolve the Taiwan question--a frightening phrase that points to an intensifying threat to invade as well as the use of any number of other obnoxious strategies. But the most unacceptable part of the proposed law is this: The right of interpretation rests solely with the Chinese government. This means that Chinese officials are both the players and the referee in this ugly political game.... The 'anti-secession' law is to a large extent modeled on the US Taiwan Relations Act. One of the goals is to rely on unilateral legislation and domestic laws to define the relationship between China and Taiwan in order to intimidate the Taiwanese public.... At the same time, Beijing is trying to challenge Washington and test its resolve. If Washington does nothing and other countries refrain from strong reaction to Chinese aggression, then China may escalate its threats of military action to frighten Taiwan away from adopting any domestic reforms and create the impression that Taiwan is already in the bag.... Unless the world wants a smarter and more self-righteous version of North Korea creating havoc in the region, the international community needs to start saying 'no' to China."
"Why The U.S. Is Not Opposed To The ‘Anti-Secession Law’"
Sun Yang-ming noted in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (3/8): "Hu Jintao talked about his views on [China’s] policy toward Taiwan, in which the most important part is his definition of the ‘status quo’ of the Taiwan Strait, which also set the tune for China’s ‘anti-secession law.’ Hu's definition basically meets the U.S.' interests in the Taiwan Strait at the current stage.... Based on this definition, Beijing believes that the current status quo in the Taiwan Strait is acceptable. This stand by Beijing is consistent with the U.S.' long-term attempt to pursue stability across the Taiwan Strait; it is also common ground shared by Washington and Beijing with regard to cross-Strait issues. But the common interests between the U.S. and China in the Taiwan Strait are surely more than that. Hu also mentioned that anything involving China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be jointly decided by the 1.3 billion Chinese people together, which includes the people of Taiwan. This statement is also consistent with the Bush administration’s view that ‘Taiwan’s future should be decided by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.’ This explains why the Bush administration is not so worried about the ‘anti-secession law.’ For the U.S., the [‘anti-secession’] bill itself is naturally a law that is created to accommodate the status quo. For Beijing, the law is a less attractive objective after the attempted legislation of the ‘unification law’ failed, and it is a legal concept created to meet the demands of the U.S. on cross-Strait stability.... The U.S. is not opposed to the ‘anti-secession law’ mainly because it does not trust Taiwan and partly also because it wants to protect the ‘status quo’ as jointly defined by both Beijing and itself. As a matter of fact, even though Washington is not opposed to the law, it is not very happy about it either because obviously Beijing has ‘created trouble’ [for Washington].... In fact, Washington’s doubts about [President] Chen Shui-bian’s planned constitutional re-engineering scheduled for 2006 might outweigh its concern over the ‘anti-secession law.’ This is where the irony lies.”
AUSTRALIA: "China Relationship Strikes Turbulence"
An editorial in the national conservative Australian read (3/9): “China has always made it clear that its dispute with Taiwan is an 'internal matter' that other countries, including Australia, have no place in. But never before have the Chinese referred directly to our treaty with Taiwan's great ally, the U.S., as a potential problem in bilateral relations. The fact they have now done so...raises again the complicated interaction of our defining economic relationship with China with our defining strategic relationship with the U.S..... Two-way trade between Australia and China now totals more than $20 billion.... China is now implicitly asking us how far we are prepared to adjust our international diplomatic settings in return for the continuation of this immensely lucrative exchange. The answer should be: not much.... By splitting from Washington and Tokyo on the issue of European arms sales to China, the Howard Government made a mis-step. We can be good friends and economic partners with the Chinese and still prefer they not get the latest whizz-bang military technology, which could end up being used against our allies, straight away. But by compromising ANZUS in any way, the Government would be making a much bigger mistake. The U.S. alliance is the foundation of Australia's defense. Apart from the shared values and long tradition of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder on which that foundation rests, the effective subsidy provided by the gigantic U.S. defense budget to our own defense needs is part of what allows us to enjoy the social policies we value. Our reply to China's suggestion that we 'review' ANZUS must therefore be the diplomatic-speak equivalent of: 'No thanks'.”
JAPAN: "World Takes Harsher View Of Beijing"
The conservative Sankei argued (3/13): "Beijing's effective dismissal of Hong Kong chief executive Tung represents China's firm control over the island territory, which was promised a high degree of autonomy under the 'one-nation, two-systems' arrangement.... Democracy appears to be spreading from the Middle East to former Soviet republics. This trend is bound to affect Hong Kong, as well as China, which is set to host the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. The world is likely to take a closer look at how President Hu deals with the global move toward freedom."
"'One-Nation, Two-Systems' In Peril"
The top-circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri opined (3/13): "Beijing has given resigned Hong Kong chief executive Tung an honorable portfolio in order to give the impression that China respects the high degree of autonomy promised to the separated territory. But, such autonomy appears to be in peril because of China's growing influence.... If Tung's successor fails to deliver political stability in Hong Kong, international and local confidence in Beijing's 'one-nation, two-systems' for the island region and for Taiwan are likely to be significantly undermined."
"Anti-Secession Law Aimed At Curbing Taiwanese Independence Moves"
Liberal Asahi commented (3/9): "Beijing's frustration and fear over Taiwanese President Chen's independence ambitions appears to have prompted the drafting of the Chinese Anti-Secession Law, which calls for 'non-peaceful means' to be used as a last resort when stopping secession. The legislation would provide the Chinese government with legal grounds to use force against Taiwan. However, checking Chen's move toward independence seems to be the real aim of Beijing's new legislation. The Bush administration appears to be increasingly concerned over escalating China-Taiwan tension amid other international challenges, including Iraq's reconstruction, Middle East peace talks, repairing relations with Europe and the nuclear standoff with North Korea and Iran. During her planned tour to Beijing later this month, Secretary of State Rice is expected to urge PRC officials to exercise restraint."
"Peace In Taiwan Strait Must Be Ensured"
Business-oriented Nikkei editorialized (3/10): "Anti-secession legislation by China, if enacted as proposed, is likely to aggravate tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Ensuring peace and stability in the area is critical to the prosperity of the entire Asia-Pacific region. Together with its recent arms buildup, Beijing's anti-secession law is likely to raise international concern. We want China to reconsider the legislation.... According to the draft bill, the Chinese government and the Central Military Commission would be responsible for deciding on possible military action against any separatist movement by Taiwan. There is, however, concern that such a decision would be initiated by the PLA, which wields substantial influence on Beijing's decision-making apparatus."
"Anti-Secession Law To Heighten China-Taiwan Tension"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun maintained (3/9): "The Chinese Anti-Secession Law, if approved by the National People's Congress next week, would give the Chinese government legal grounds to use a military option against Taiwan. By enacting such legislation, China appears to be attempting to clarify its strong view that the matter is a domestic issue. Mindful of possible criticism from the international community, including the U.S. and Japan, Beijing has refrained from declaring the possible use of force but has instead suggested 'non-peaceful means.' The PRC also seems to be trying to avoid fanning Taiwanese sentiment by suggesting 'softer' measures against Taipei."
MALAYSIA: "One Country Two Systems"
Chua See Keat commented in the Chinese-lanague Sin Chew Daily (3/8): "The prolonged delay in announcing the resignation of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Jian-hua to the region has created a political vacuum to Hong Kong and hampered the reputation of Hong Kong as a highly efficient self-rule special administrative district of China. Perhaps Chinese leaders are afraid that by announcing the resignation of Tung Jian-hua, the political stability of Hong Kong as part of China could be at stake and that the democratic movement which is still very strong within the Hong Kong community would take the opportunity to revolt against China. But Chinese leaders have failed to realize that by holding on the resignation news of Tung Jian-hua, the credibility of its 'One Country Two System' policy in Hong Kong would be at stake. As it is, the people in Hong Kong are now getting very restless, and the Hong Kong share market is at a nerve breaking point. The undercurrent of uneasiness among the people of Hong Kong should not be underestimated."
SINGAPORE: "Tung Makes His Exit"
The pro-government Straits Times opined (3/11): "Finally, it's official. But though Mr. Tung Chee Hwa said he was resigning as Hong Kong Chief Executive for health reasons, many think his departure may say much about how China's leadership continues to struggle with the idea of 'one country, two systems'. Clearly, Beijing has been unhappy with Mr. Tung's performance. So have Hong Kong residents, albeit for different reasons.... Few believe he is leaving on his own. If true, then many worry his removal will set up uncertainty for the future: How much of the 'two systems' finally will be left? The job as the first leader of post-1997 Hong Kong was always going to be difficult, requiring an ability to balance the desires of a demanding population in the immediate post-colonial period with the wants of a communist central authority.... A businessman rather than, more appropriately, someone with government administrative experience, Mr. Tung managed to satisfy few and displease many. Still, Mr. Tung's departure is over and done with; it is best to look to the future. Indeed, Hong Kong now has an opportunity for a fresh start in governance. Keeping a finger on the pulse would be a requisite skill for the new leader. Going forward, one thing Beijing perhaps can do is to quickly provide Hong Kong with a road map to the fuller democracy provided for in the Basic Law. It would be a strong reaffirmation of 'one country, two systems', and will assuage any possible concern among the territory's inhabitants."
BRITAIN: "After Tung: Hong Kong Needs Robust And Articulate Leadership"
The conservative Times opined (3/11): "The many and varied rumours about Beijing's intentions are the inevitable result of a lack of transparency. The law must be observed. But Beijing should also acknowledge democratic demands for a genuinely elected chief executive. There is a possible compromise. The election committee's term expires in July; its membership could be exponentially expanded before the new executive is chosen. Hong Kong deserves a strong, competent advocate, with a proper mandate to govern. Weak leadership does neither Hong Kong nor Beijing any favors."
"Farewell, Mr. Tung: Democracy Is Answer To China's Dilemma In Hong Kong"
The independent Financial Times commented (3/11): "Eight years into Hong Kong's 50-year status as a region enjoying a constitutionally guaranteed 'high degree of autonomy' within China, the tale of Mr. Tung shows how vulnerable the territory's rights and freedoms are to Chinese interference. There is a solution that would please Hong Kong and absolve Beijing of burdensome responsibilities. The Basic Law says the ultimate aim is to elect the chief executive by universal suffrage. Were Beijing to move towards this goal, Hong Kong's people would have only themselves to blame if they voted in a bad chief executive."
"China's Dark Heart"
The conservative Daily Telegraph noted (3/11): "On Question Time, a government spokesman said of Taiwan that china wished to set everything within a legal framework. But if that is so, why is it seemingly about to drive a coach and horses through the Basic Law, Hong Kong's constitution, by appointing Mr. Tung's successor for a two instead of a five-year term? The answer is that political expediency takes precedence over the rule of law. Don't be fooled by the glamor of Shanghai: China is still far from being an advanced society."
GERMANY: "Meanwhile In Asia"
Clemens Wergin commented in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/14): "The EU ambition to lift the weapons embargo on China, once imposed after the massacre at the Tiananmen Square in 1989, is threatening to turn into a substantial transatlantic conflict.... It is indeed difficult to understand why Europeans, Germany and France in particular, are pushing for an end of the embargo. All they apparently care about is selling more goods to China.... Given that China's National Peoples' Congress approves the anti-secession law today, which threatens Taiwan with war if it declares independence, there is no guarantee that China's rise remains peaceful. The nationalistic propaganda is causing turmoil in a region, which enjoyed permanent economic growth thanks to the stabilizing role the U.S. played there for decades. It is clear that the future development of Asia and the export results of the West depend on the continuing stabilizing U.S. role. America does therefore not understand the plans of the EU. Under the worst-case scenario, Europe modernizes an army that would fight against U.S. soldiers in a military conflict over Taiwan.... Europe has learned little from its history. Like Germany and Italy at the end of the 19th century, today's China is a developing nation that is looking for its place in the already established international system.... The rise of China is not an arbitrary issue, but probably the most important geo-strategic question of the next 50 years. Those who cannot think of more than rewarding China's threats against Taiwan by lifting the embargo are ignoring their responsibility for world politics."
Henrik Bork opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/11): "The right time for Tung's resignation would have been July 2, 2003, when more than half a million people in Hong Kong took to the streets and called for Tung's replacement.... From Beijing's point of view, Tung was unable to meet one essential requirement which Beijing demands from its leader in Hong Kong: he did not create enough law and order. However, the headquarters in Beijing ignored the fact that it was too much for Tung to control Hong Kong's economy. Only new Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao criticized Tung last December. At the latest since then, Tung's days were numbered. Eight hundred people who will be carefully selected by the Chinese government will now seek his successor. If the new provincial leader is able to govern for five years, Beijing would have postponed in an elegant way the introduction of the promised electoral reforms until the year 2010."
"Beijing Is Flexing Its Muscles"
Petra Kolonko commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/9): "China's anti-secession law turned out less aggressive than expected. It does not define a new Taiwan doctrine and it is vague about taking military measures against independence activities. However, the legalized obligation to create unity also with non-peaceful means is a new quality in intimidating Taiwan. The People's Republic makes clear that its patience is not unlimited in this matter. In the long run, China's military power remains a threat.... When the American government warns the European Union against lifting the weapons embargo on China, it has this threat in mind--even more so than the permanent violations of human rights in China. If the EU were to export weapons to China, it would change the power balance between Taiwan and China to Beijing's advantage. With this indirect European assistance, China could threaten American troops in the region.... From the Chinese point of view, the long-term U.S. strategy intends to restrict China's power in the region. The Taiwan question is therefore not just defined as a solemn duty of reunification, but also as a security issue for China. An increasingly powerful and militarily well-armed People's Republic will not accept it forever that this security conflict remains unresolved."
"Threat From A Giant"
Henrik Bork said in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/9): "Both sides would be well advised to stop insisting on principles such as 'independence' and 'one China,' but Taipei and Beijing should focus on small moves of rapprochement. The direct flights during the Spring Festival were a good beginning. It would be fatal if the international community underestimated the danger of this conflict. The U.S. in particular should strengthen its China diplomacy and call upon both sides to be more moderate. The People's Republic should be clearly told that an attack on Taiwan would be no domestic affair, and the message for Taiwan should be that it could not expect international recognition after a declaration of independence if the price would be a war in Asia. The separation of a country is regrettable, but a reunification forced with military means would be a tragedy as well. War threats and unilateral policies are dangerous. It is therefore wrong that Taiwan's Prime Minister replied by calling for revising articles in the constitution. It is time for dialogue, confidence-building measures and patience. A law might legalize an attack on Taiwan in China--but it would never make it legitimate. This is the last thing the world needs."
AUSTRIA: "Large China, Small Taiwan--And An EU Weapons Embargo"
Burkhard Bischof wrote in centrist Die Presse (3/9): "If not peacefully, let's use force. During the past years, Beijing has continuously built up its fleet and air force and has installed hundreds of rockets directed against Taiwan. And year after year, Beijing sinks more money into armaments. This is where Europe comes into play--and especially France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder, who, for a long time, have been urging their EU partners to at last lift the EU weapons embargo against China. The Americans have expressly warned the Europeans to take such a step--although one must ask them why they did not try and prevent the Israeli arms deals with China with the same degree of vehemence. However, apart from U.S. pressure, there is the question of whether it is really smart, in view of Beijing's threats of violence against a democracy in East Asia, to open the EU sluice gates for European weapons deliveries? Europe really has to be careful not to lose all credibility as patron of freedom, equality and fraternity in its dealings with China just for the sake of doing business."
"No Weapons For The Dragon"
Senior editor Helmut L. Mueller commented in independent Salzburger Nachrichtern (3/9): "Beijing's heightened threats against Taiwan demonstrate how explosive the conflict has become along the Taiwan route. In such a situation, a lifting of the already perforated EU weapons embargo against China would be a totally wrong signal. It would amount to the Europeans issuing carte blanche for Beijing to pursue an aggressive foreign policy, and would destabilize the strategic balance in East Asia.... This much is true: China is not to be isolated but to be integrated into the international system as one of the great future players. However, it would be wrong for the Europeans to keep their eyes primarily on the economic advantages on the giant Chinese market without demanding even the smallest political price from Beijing. If China wants to become part of the circle of civilized nations, it will first of all, have to improve its abysmal human rights record and give up the unacceptable policy of uttering threats against the democracy Taiwan."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "The EU Will Lose Profit In Embargo Cancellation"
Michael Romancov maintained in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny (3/14): "One of the controversial issues during President Bush's European Tour was the decision of the EU to cancel the China arms embargo that Washington still supports. Who will profit from this trade? The EU is the biggest trade bloc in the world, but its foreign and security policies seem ineffective for now. It is no wonder that the EU is considered as a 'supermarket' and not a 'superpower.' Since 1949 China has behaved very aggressively. In last two decades it calmed down and oriented itself towards 'peaceful co-existence.' Despite this, China still does not hesitate to use violence.... Why the EU has decided to cancel the embargo, is not understandable. China today is one of the most powerful countries in Asia and is not threatened directly by any of its neighbors. The countries in the neighborhood of China are not in the same situation. The only country in Asia, which is able to provide effective security guarantees, is the U.S. The only direct effect of European arms deliveries to China will be the anxiety of all neighbors. The next effect will be the strengthening of the power-role of the U.S. in this exposed region. Generally, this decision is not very profitable, and is politically wrong, because it props up the strongest, non-democratic country."
NETHERLANDS: "Under Gunshot"
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad in its editorial (3/9): "The Chinese-Taiwanese relations continue to be of a problematic nature. The irritations on both sides have once again surfaced. A new Chinese law, which provides that the people's republic could use military means to prevent an official separation of Taiwan, reveals an old and never resolved conflict.... No matter how much Beijing would like it, the Taiwan issue is not a domestic political issue. It has grown into a security issue for the entire region. The U.S. provided Taiwan with up-to-date armed forces. China also modernized its armed forces and is literally keeping Taiwan under gunshot. The European Union would like to do even more business with China which is demanding the arms embargo be lifted in exchange for business contracts. In light of the increasing tensions between the two countries it would be better to wait with the possible lifting of the arms embargo and to urge the two countries to engage in a dialogue, the basis of which should be the reality of the island state."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "China's Anti-Secession Laws"
An editorial (3/12) in centrist The Hindu opined: “Contrary to all the hype, China's anti-secession Bill under consideration by the National People's Conference...for enactment during its current session appears to be a measured step. It is a response to provocative calls for Taiwan's independence by politicians in the island over the past year, leading to heightened tensions in the entire region. The Bill is a reiteration of China's longstanding and consistent position on Taiwan. Beijing justly views Taiwan as a dissident province that, given time and diplomatic effort, will eventually reunify politically with the mainland. The decision to give the 'one China' policy a legal basis through an Act that envisages, as the last resort, military intervention to preserve its territorial integrity, came after President Chen Shiu-bian of Taiwan ran his 2004 re-election campaign on the promise to change the Constitution by a referendum to underline the island's 'sovereign and independent' status.... Clearly...China wants to put in place a deterrent to any plan for drastic action splittist politicians in Taiwan might have up their sleeves, thus making a military confrontation between the two sides less likely than it seemed in the past.... Even the decision to call it an 'anti-secession' law rather than a "reunification" law is an indication that China's parameters on the Taiwan question are broad and allow for flexibility.... The Taiwanese regime should view the proposed law...as an opportunity to begin a dialogue with the Chinese Government to end the cross-Straits hostility. This is what the people of Taiwan desire. Going by President Chen's re-election by the narrowest of margins, and the poor performance of his party in the legislative elections, Taiwanese voters have tired of irresponsible leaders who advocate a collision course with Beijing.... The United States clearly does not want to be pushed into a confrontation with China, one of its key economic partners. It is time Taiwan's leaders read the writing on the wall, both at home and abroad. There is not the ghost of a chance of their getting away with any declaration of independence.”
PAKISTAN: "Taiwan Powder Keg"
The Assam Tribune editorialized (3/10): "The belligerent stance of Beijing vis-à-vis the political status of Taiwan...is now a virtual powder keg waiting to be ignited at the slightest pretext.... This imbroglio has further cast its shadow over not just the weaponry business stakes of USA in the island but also the budding U.S.-Japan defense alliance.... This is notwithstanding the assurance of Tokyo that it would not meddle in the island’s affairs. Beijing has warned against any attempt by Washington and Tokyo to include Taiwan in the scope of their security alliance.... It was against this ominous backdrop that…telephonic conversation was held between China’s Foreign Minister...and the U.S. Secretary of State.... On the other hand, Taiwan authorities are increasingly concerned that the 'anti-secession law', if enacted, could create the legal basis for China to take the island by force.... Rapprochement is needed not only among the domestic political parties but also between Taiwan and the mainland. This could be the ice-breaking trip. The success of the first-ever direct passenger flights in 55 years from China to...Taiwan...can be followed up with a similar exercise…as part of the efforts to ease cross-straits tensions."
CANADA: "President Chen Stoops Low To Try To Do A Deal In Taiwan"
Jonathan Manthorpe observed in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (3/8): "Beijing's so-called anti-secession law is of no legal significance in itself. But it is an incitement at a time when the United States and Japan have made it clear they regard peace in the Taiwan Strait as an essential part of their joint strategic interests. Yet at the very moment when the island's President Chen Shui-bian should be calmly affirming his Democratic Progressive Party's policy that Taiwan is an independent nation to which China has no historic claim, he has taken a road so low it is the habitat of invertebrates. In a feeble and scurrilous attempt to get a working majority in Taiwan's parliament, Chen has done a deal with an old arch-enemy, James Soong, leader of the pro-Beijing People First Party. Taiwanese internal politics have been thrown into turmoil and the only surprise is that principled members of Chen's DPP have not deserted the party en masse. That may yet happen.... Chen has never been good at understanding the critical position Taiwan occupies in the shifting strategic and political considerations between China, Japan, and the U.S., on which the island depends for its continued de facto and de jure independence. He has irritated Washington no end by pressing forward with policies aimed at entrenching Taiwan's political and cultural distinctiveness in ways and at times that have heightened regional tensions. U.S. administrations like their allies to keep American interests firmly in mind when framing domestic political activity. Chen has been abysmal at performing this trick. But Washington probably doesn't have to worry any more about Chen upsetting the delicate apple cart of regional interests during his remaining three years as president."
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