International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

December 10, 2003

December 10, 2003





**  China and Taiwan papers see "policy ambiguity" from Washington despite its key role. 


**  President Chen's "provocative" referendum proves he's intent on "splitting China."   


**  Pro-PRC dailies stress China "will not renounce the use of force."


**  Pro-Chen outlets back "Taiwan's democratic progress" and urge the U.S. to do the same.




Ironically, Beijing hopes the U.S. can 'rein in the pro-independence' Chen--  Taiwan and mainland dailies agreed "maintaining the status quo" is the best way to avoid any "military reaction."  PRC observers criticized the U.S.' "deep-rooted contradictory policies" in "adhering to the one-China policy" while offering Taiwan "verbal and material support."  Beijing's Global Times postulated that "the more tense cross-Strait relations are, the more free the U.S. feels" in its relations with China.  But writers split regarding U.S. actions.  One appreciated the U.S.' "warning to Taiwan independence elements" as a "wise move."  Conversely, official China Daily alleged that U.S. support encourages Chen's "feverish fantasy of independence."


Chen should stop 'provoking' Beijing to gain pro-independence voters--  Both mainland papers and conservative Taiwanese dailies blasted Chen's "dangerous game of provoking" Beijing "as a means of courting" pro-independence voters.  Global Times alleged the referendum would "confuse people's minds...and cultivate independence awareness."  Taipei's conservative China Post termed Chen "irresponsible" to renew a "push for a provocative public consolidate voter support" at the risk of "new tensions with Beijing." 


Pro-PRC dailies proclaim unification 'an unchangeable historical trend'--  Pro-PRC Hong Kong writers insisted China is seeking a "peaceful resolution" but would never renounce "military means aimed at Taiwan separatists who are threatening the peace."  Hong Kong Commercial Daily stressed the determination of all Chinese for "resolute measures to complete their unification dream."  Official Chinese dailies also noted the pro-unification "interests of the Chinese people."  English-language media, however, strongly warned against "intervention from foreign forces."  China Daily blasted the "foreign forces interfering in China's reunification."       


Papers favoring the referendum call on the U.S. to 'stand on the side of democracy'--  The "harmless defensive referendum" only seeks to "maintain the status quo," said pro-independence Taiwanese outlets.  Taiwan Daily labeled the referendum conflict a "dispute of ideas between democratic Taiwan and totalitarian China," while Liberty Times urged the U.S. to "restrain China should any provocation" take place.  Canada's leading Globe and Mail went so far to say that Taiwan "is not a renegade province.  This is a nation.  Eventually, the world must recognize it."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 45 reports from 7 countries over 1 - 12 December 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




CHINA: "Defensive Referendum Manipulates Democracy"


Xing Zhigang declared in official English-language China Daily (12/9):  "Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was accused yesterday of manipulating democracy to serve his own interests through his call for a "defensive referendum" on March 20.  Mainland experts on cross-Straits studies said Chen's pursuit of Taiwan independence is the real threat to the island, rather than the mainland's military deployment.  The Taiwan leader's referendum push demonstrated that his chances of winning re-election in next year's "presidential" polls are running out, said Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences....  The researcher noted that Chen's voting ploy is meant to provoke the mainland and trigger higher tensions in cross-Straits ties to give the public a false impression that the island is being bullied by the mainland.  Li made the comments after Chen announced on Sunday that he would hold an "anti-missile, anti-war" plebiscite during "presidential" elections in March....  Wu Nengyuan, director of the Institute of Modern Taiwan Studies under the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences, said Chen has deliberately tried to play up the mainland's military deployment, which targets only separatist forces.  Beijing has long made it clear that the use of force is mainly aimed at deterring pro-independence attempts by separatist forces on the island and intervention from foreign forces, according to Wu....  Wu said the Taiwan authorities should first abandon their pro-independence pursuit before asking Beijing to forgo the use of force."


"Chen Changes Tack Over Vote"


Hu Xuan said in official English-language China Daily (12/9):  "Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian reportedly said in an interview Friday that a planned referendum in March would not involve independence but call on the mainland to withdraw ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and renounce the use of force against the island....  Feigning innocence, Chen's new initiative to focus the vote on the mainland's military posturing after Washington has bluntly discouraged him from holding a "defensive referendum" on independence is further provocation.  The island's pro-independence forces have pressed for a referendum for ages as a way to bypass constitutional barriers to try and "legitimize" independence....  Once again, Chen showed us how swiftly he could move to make use of the clause, which the opposition parties had only supported in the legislature as a last resort in the election process....  Nobody in the world hopes more than the Chinese people do that the Taiwan question can be solved in a peaceful way.  The mainland will not renounce the use of force, if necessary, to reunite the mainland and Taiwan. This is not directed against the people in Taiwan but the foreign forces interfering in China's reunification and the separatist forces on the island attempting to foment 'Taiwan independence.  The current cross-Straits situation is not the mainland pursuing reunification by force, but the island's diehard separatists stepping up their independence agenda, by relying on sophisticated weaponry from the United States, more boldly and overtly than ever before."


 "U.S. Warns Chen Shuibian: Chen's 'Defensive Referendum' Intentions Irritates His Backer"


Lin Hai noted in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (12/8):  "The Chen Shuibian authorities were not surprised and had earlier predicted protests coming from the island itself, but what they had not predicted was that the U.S., which they always assume is their 'backer,' has become dissatisfied with them....  The U.S. attitude has aroused a severe reaction on the island.  The local media believes that the U.S. Taiwan policy is undergoing a subtle change...from 'not supporting' to rather clearly 'opposing' the 'referendum' directed toward 'pro-independence'....  It is odd that the U.S. has paid such attention to the 'defensive referendum.'  This shows that the U.S. intends to define a red line for the 'defensive referendum,' in case the 'defensive referendum' causes a 'cross-Strait military conflict,' which the U.S. does not want to see.  Therefore the warning that the U.S. gave to Chen Shuibian could be taken as a 'preventive reaction' to 'Taiwan's independence referendum'....  Experts have lined up to predict Bush's possible attitude on the Taiwan issue when he meets with Wen Jiabao.  There could be three possibilities: first, the 'usual' vague attitude; this is what Taiwan authorities wants to see most; second, Bush, like his predecessor Clinton, reiterates the 'three Nos' policy...if so, this would be the first time that Bush made such a expression since he has been in office, and this no doubt would be a blow to the DPP; third, Bush personally expresses 'opposition to Taiwan's independence' during the press conference that follows his talks with Premier Wen.  That would be a severe blow to Taiwan's 'pro-independence' splittists....  The possibility exists that Bush may express one of the latter two choices."


"The U.S. Should Keep Its Word And Clearly Oppose Taiwan Authorities' Provocative Splittist Activities"


Ren Yujun and Jing Yi commented in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/5):  "This is not the first time that the U.S. has issued a 'stern proclamation' when the Taiwan Strait situation becomes tense....  However, each time the U.S. verbally criticizes Taiwan, its support for Taiwan does not decrease but in fact increases....  The U.S.' two-faced and oft-changing attitude is due to its important political, economic and military interests in Taiwan.  Every American administration operated under 'master and servant' relations with the Taiwan authorities.  The U.S. provided Taiwan with different kinds of assistance from economic to military, while Taiwan acted as part of the U.S. 'anti-communist' alliance....  Militarily, Taiwan is located at the center of the westernmost island chain to the west of the U.S. in the western Pacific.  Losing Taiwan would mean a gap in this defense system.  Taiwan is also the second-largest buyer of U.S. munitions....  To keep Taiwan in a 'certain state' of nervousness does not harm but benefits the U.S.  The U.S. policy on Taiwan is that 'preventing unification' is more important than 'preventing independence.'  Except 'independence' should be under U.S. direction, otherwise a 'red card' is issued."


"Words Are No Historical Joke"


Shang Han declared in official Xinhua News Agency-run International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (12/5):  "Opposing the independence referendum', but not supporting 'Taiwan independence:' the difference in definition between 'not supporting' and 'opposing' is a carefully studied policy in American politicians' eyes, a vague support for Taiwan in 'pro-independence' supporters' eyes, and a limit to policy revision in mainland China's eyes and history's eyes....  The U.S. 'cautiousness' in its word selection is simply meant to create a vagueness in U.S. Taiwan policy, hoping that vagueness continues to produce a balance in Taiwan politics and in China-U.S. relations.  Maybe some people believe that in this way the U.S. can not only maintain its reputability but also keep reaping great benefits.  Actually in the end, it might not only lose precious trust but also the greater interests....  From the dispute about using 'regretful' or 'apologetic' in regard to the China-U.S. airplane crash in China's South Sea to today's 'not supporting' or 'opposing' in regard to the Taiwan issue, the U.S. is going too far toward the margins of historical comedy or tragedy."


"U.S.-Taiwan War Simulation Will Probably Not Occur; U.S. May Cancel To Avoid Wrong Signal Of Supporting Independence"


Li Runtian held in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/5):  "The results of this war simulation would not be beneficial to Taiwan....  The U.S. and Taiwan both want to stage frequent simulations mainly because they can both benefit from them.  For the U.S., the results of the simulation can only equate to Taiwan suffering a setback.  The U.S. can claim that Taiwan is not battle-ready and has not facilitated its troops according to U.S. demands.  Therefore the U.S. can push Taiwan to purchase its munitions.  For the Taiwan authorities, the simulation can create a fake crisis in the Taiwan Strait, so that 'pro-independence' supporters can take the opportunity to ask for support for their arms purchase bill...and enhance its military capabilities for the fight against unification."


"U.S. Balances Two-Faced Stance"


Hu Xuan said in the official English-language China Daily (12/5):  "The U.S. reportedly cancelled on Wednesday its plan to hold comprehensive defence talks and a computer war simulation with Taiwan's military later this month in a bid to avoid sending wrong signals to the island's pro-independence forces 'amid rising tensions with the mainland'....  Washington this time seems to have made a rational decision at a critical juncture....  U.S. officials in recent weeks have reiterated Washington's opposition to the use of force in the Taiwan Straits by the mainland and have indicated that the United States would be prepared, if necessary, to respond on Taiwan's side if Beijing resorted to military action....  The island's 'vice-defence minister' Lin Chung-pin told the legislature the engagements would cover 'routine military exchanges under the framework of the Taiwan Relations Act'....  The so-called 'routine military exchanges' is virtually a spree of closer US-Taiwan military co-operations, involving unceasing US arms sales to the island which seriously violate the principles laid down in the three Sino-US joint communiques and have greatly fueled the island's diehard separatists' much bolder steps towards independence....  The U.S. gives its commitment to adhering to the one-China policy and not to support Taiwan independence on the one hand, and gives the island verbal and material support on the other....  Believing that US interests are best served by the status quo of the separation of Taiwan from the mainland, along with the subsequent tension, Washington has kept the deep-rooted contradictory policies towards Taiwan for ages at the sacrifice of the interests of the Chinese people across the Straits, no matter how it phrases its rhetoric."


"U.S. Can't Escape Responsibility For Taiwan's 'Referendum' Farce"


Wang Zhong stated in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/4):  "Not long ago when Chen Shuibian 'transited' the U.S, the U.S. gave him special consideration.  Secretary of State Powell shook hands and exchanged greetings with Chen twice in public and in front of the media....  Through later media exaggeration, this move became a symbol of U.S. support for Chen Shuibian....  This U.S. behavior caused Chen's 'independence' ambitions to swell....  When the four versions of the 'referendum law' were taken to a vote, the DPP version was the most radical....  It should have been gained the most support from DPP members.  But it turned out that most DPP members abstained....  Taiwan's media reported that this was also due to U.S. influence....  It is said that a message had been circulated by senior DPP officials: the U.S. doesn't wish to see the DPP 'go too far,' worried that the 'referendum law' would start a fire....  The media believes that for Americans, many benefits accrue from assisting Chen Shuibian make a show of the 'referendum law' so long as Chen does not 'accidentally start the shooting': the more tense cross-Strait relations are, the more free the U.S. feels in playing the 'Taiwan' card in order to bargain with China."


"Taiwan Public Believes Mainland Would Dare To Go To War: Their Endurance Of 'Pro-Independence' Talk Has Limits"


Hu Xijin observed in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/3):  "The Taiwan public doesn't want to go to war and the 'pro-independence' forces don't dare to go to war.  The firm stance of the Mainland has deterred 'pro-independence' supporters....  This has become an important factor in cross-Strait relations....  An interview [of Mainland reporters in Taiwan] rendered several impressions: first, several interviewees believe that if a cross-Strait war broke out, the People's Liberation Army would have the capability to fight a quick war and conquer Taiwan....  Second, the DPP repeatedly has stressed that the U.S. military would 'protect Taiwan.'   But...more and more Taiwanese don't believe this....  'Taiwan is not Iraq;' there is no oil here, nothing that the U.S. military would be interested in....  The U.S. would have to face the fact that the PLA has landed on the Island and accept it....  Taiwanese society at present doesn't have the sentiment of 'independence or war,' nor even the impulse.  'No war' is the Taiwan public's bottom line in regard to the various political games that Taiwan's parties have been playing....  The influence of 'localism' has continuously increased.  But the symbols of 'China' are in every corner of Taiwan.  Chinese culture is the deep foundation of Taiwan society."


"Taiwan's Mainland Intelligence Plan Has Gone Bankrupt"


Li Tongyi commented in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/3):  "Taiwan's eight intelligence agencies fight each other for power and influence....  After the DPP came to power, in order to take credit for their work and ask for kudos in front of their new 'master,' they all plot and intrigue against each other.  Various 'fighting for credit' or 'leaking secrets' scandals continuously occur.  This kind of 'internal inefficiency' has created various difficulties for implementing any intelligence plans'....  Although Taiwan's intelligence organizations are large in scale and have made enormous plans, the facts have proved that no matter how many 'adjustments' they make or no matter how well 'trained' they are, they can't trump their fated 'defeat.' ...From all of the above, people can see that our motherland's unification is an unchangeable historical trend. ...It is no surprise that a senior official from Taiwan's Bureau of Military Intelligence sighed: Taiwan's mainland intelligence has nothing to put on the table."


"U.S. Actions Spur On Taiwan Separatists"


Hu Xuan claimed in the official English-language China Daily (12/3):  "The Taiwan question is nothing else but a question of China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The upgrading of US-Taiwan military co-operation seriously threatens China's sovereignty....  The latest uproar is one of a string of moves by the island to strengthen its military collaboration with the United States. The U.S. has broken its word to China by expanding military co-operation with Taiwan, which simply encourages the island's separatists. Despite its explicit commitment made in the three Sino-US communiques, over the past decades the United States has never severed its military connections with Taipei. It has gone even further now at a time when the island's separatist forces led by Chen Shui-bian have been seeking independence more boldly and overtly than ever before.  The Taiwan authorities' feverish fantasy of independence would not have run so rampant without US connivance.  Taiwan would not have become a question at all had the U.S. not intervened.  Neither its claims to adhere to the one-China policy nor its upgrading military co-operation with the island has gone beyond Washington's traditional strategic thinking regarding the Taiwan question.  Neither a united China nor a war across the Taiwan Straits fits in with the US perception of its own interests in the Asia-Pacific region.  The mainland has made it crystal clear it would not use force unless the island declares independence or foreign intervention takes place.  It is fully justifiable for a country to defend itself when its territorial integrity is threatened."


"Twenty U.S. Spy Ships Are Spying On The Taiwan Strait"


Li Xuanliang and Niu Baocheng wrote in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/3):  "In fact, whenever the Taiwan Strait situation reaches a critical period, U.S. spy ships become active in nearby territorial waters....  Ironically, on the one hand, the U.S. intelligence agencies frequently send staff to Taiwan to conduct 'intelligence cooperation;' on the other hand, they never cease intelligence activities in Taiwan, even trying to infiltrate into Taiwan's senior levels....  The frequent activities of U.S. spy ships in the Taiwan Strait are not just aimed at China's mainland.  The U.S. in fact worries about the Taiwan authorities, afraid that they will 'accidentally start shooting.'  Therefore the Taiwan military's every move is under 'surveillance' by U.S. spy ships....  The Taiwan authorities feel agitated but dare not to call the U.S. on their spy ships' aggressive behavior, and they have no other choice."


"Taiwan Bill Threatens Cross-Straits Ties"


Yan Xizao noted in official English-language China Daily (12/2):  "The ostensible absence of clauses legitimizing referenda on such issues as independence, as well as a name and flag change in the referendum bill Taiwan's 'parliament' passed late Thursday night, saved the island an immediate showdown with the mainland....  The Taiwan 'parliament' or 'legislative yuan' did not cross the redline Beijing had drawn. The most provocative clauses in the draft bills presented by pro-independence camps, which qualify for Beijing's definition as 'a referendum law without restrictions' deserving 'strong reactions,' ran aground during legislative scrutiny.  The outcome was read as an overwhelming triumph by the opposition camp, most noticeably the Nationalist and People First parties....  That the vote happened at all, and earlier than had been anticipated, was a success for Chen's Democratic Progressive Party in the sense that it was a direct result of the opposition parties' half-way retreat....  Beneath its apparently milder surface, the passed referendum bill is full of pitfalls.  Unlike extremist drafts allowing referenda on whether the island should make a new 'constitution,' the approved version says a referendum may be held over revisions of the existing 'constitution'....  Depending on interpretation, distinctions between a new 'constitution' and a revised one can be substantial or nominal.  Likewise, inclusion of the so-called 'defensive referendum,' the only major clause drawn from the independence-leaning drafts, allows authorities to hold a referendum on independence when the island's 'sovereignty' is under threat.  If this simply implies Taiwan would not attempt for independence unless militarily attacked, then eternal peace is expectable across the Straits, considering the mainland's consistent stance that the military option is reserved only for Taiwan's independence attempts.  Like many of the Taiwan authorities' previous promises, especially those of "president" Chen's, however, the bill, though in the form of law, should not be taken for granted.  Its lack of definition of the "threat" gives independence referendum advocates full latitude to determine what constitutes a threat.  Chen Shui-bian has been playing hide-and-seek with the mainland. He certainly does not read the bill as well-wishers do....  The referendum bill has opened a Pandora's box which promises unfathomable destructive potentials.  It has offered a legal platform for the island's separatist elements and sowed new seeds of uncertainty in relations across the Taiwan Straits.  Pressed by 'president' Chen Shui-bian's increasingly provocative stunts, the mainland will have to prepare for that seemingly inevitable moment of truth....  There is no excuse for China not to ready itself for any highest possible prices in safeguarding its own territorial integrity.  The political reality on the mainland is that no leaders could afford to lose Taiwan even if they could not achieve the long-cherished goal of reunification.  Unlike in previous confrontations, in anxious anticipation of Thursday's vote results, most people on the mainland shared the consensus that once Taiwan breaks the bottom line, Beijing would have to match its tough rhetoric with an iron fist this time around.  In this sense, Thursday's vote had only re-set the time bomb, instead of defusing it."


"Taiwan's 'Referendum Law' Pops Out"


Lin Hai commented in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (12/1):  "The KMT-PFP version of the 'referendum law'...actually disguises two political messages:  First, neither the DPP authorities nor Chen Shuibian himself has the right to initiate a 'general independence referendum'....  Second, the 'consultative referendum' plotted by the island's splittists also has been restricted....  We should note that the 'referendum crisis' in Taiwan has not yet been calmed.  Right after the vote, the DPP authorities said that they wanted to put the resolution to another vote through the Executive Yuan.  This means the risk still exists that the KMT-PFP version of 'referendum law' will be overruled.  The recent 'referendum constitution,' which is an important step taken by Chen Shuibian and the DPP authorities toward an 'independence referendum,' has caused serious tensions across the Strait....  If 'pro-independence' supporters hadn't given up on their 'separation daydream' for one day, then the damage of the 'independence referendum' to cross-Strait relations would be getting worse everyday."


"Taiwan's 'Referendum Law' Means Endless Danger"


Zhang Yiyao stated in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (12/1):  "The meaning of 'defensive referendum' is: 'if encountering an external threat to the regime, the President has the power to hold a referendum on national security affairs through a resolution taken by the administrative cabinet.'  It would allow Taiwan's leadership to directly put forth and hold a referendum.  Public opinion holds that if Taiwan doesn't try for 'independence,' the Mainland will not use military force, therefore, and thus 'defensive referendum' makes no sense....  After the Mainland issued a stern reply to Chen Shuibian's 'general independence referendum', the U.S., who had been acquiescent, began to realize the seriousness of the problem and urgently increased pressure on the Chen Shuibian authorities....  Analysts think that although the KMT-PFP version of the 'referendum law' has alleviated the cross-Strait crisis, the 'referendum law' has left a severe aftermath and the tense political situation across the Strait has not yet been solved.  First, ...the 'referendum' discussions would not merely be applicable to the public's welfare and economics, and do not clearly exclude the possibility of a 'general independence referendum.'  Second, although a high threshold has been established for 'constitutional revision,' the possibility of 'revisions related to overall independence' are not excluded.  Third, the President can directly initiate a 'defensive referendum.'  What's more, there could be great flexibility in defining 'external threats to Taiwan.'  The Taiwan leadership that has swelled with ambitions of 'independence' could make use of the vague definitions of the terms and explore other avenues for a 'Taiwan independence referendum'....  Fourth, 'pro-independence' supporters might use 'referendum as consensus' as a cover, using the 'referendum law' to confuse people's minds on a grand scale, propagandize 'referendum consciousness' and cultivate 'independence' awareness'.... No matter what countermeasures the Chen Shuibian authorities may use, the fights between the Blue [KMT and PFP] and the Green [DPP and Taiwan Unity Union] on the 'referendum law' will continue and a political chaos is unavoidable.  We should pay close attention to the development of Taiwan's 'referendum constitution,' firmly frustrate any splittist plots for which anybody could use 'referendum constitution' as an excuse."


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Wen Jiabao Restates China's Taiwan Policy"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (12/9):  "The major purpose of Wen Jiabao's U.S. visit is to discuss with President Bush the current and long-term development of Sino-U.S. relations....  The Taiwan issue is the most important in Sino-U.S. relations.  Unfortunately, the U.S. is double-dealing and using obscure strategies on this most sensitive issue by sending out ambiguous messages on 'Taiwan independence.'  Once again, the hearts of 1.3 billion Chinese are hurt.  Recently, anti-U.S. feelings are growing among the general public in China.  These feelings are emerging mainly because of the U.S. policy on Taiwan....  Premier Wen Jiabao's U.S. visit provides a fresh opportunity for Chinese and U.S. leaders to discuss Sino-U.S. bilateral relations, including the Taiwan issue, in a profound way.  We hope that the Bush administration will seize the opportunity to take a clear stance and oppose Taiwan independence."


"How Can One Break The Feelings Of Kinship And Compatriots"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily editorialized (12/9):  "'Such a narrow strait is the biggest source of grief and the deepest sadness for our nation.'  Premier Wen Jiabao borrowed the famous phrase of Taiwan poet Yu Guangzhong to express his deep feelings in front of the overseas Chinese in New York during his U.S. visit.  His words show the stance of the Chinese government and its people over the Taiwan issue.  His remarks touch people's souls and strike a sympathetic chord with all Chinese sons and daughters including their Taiwanese compatriots.  It also shows the world that the Taiwan issue is a heavy burden for the Chinese nation.  Furthermore, it shows that the Chinese government and the Chinese people are sincerely and resolutely looking for unification of the whole country and a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue."


"Taiwan Worries That It Will Be Betrayed By The U.S."


Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News opined (12/9):  "Premier Wen Jiabao began his 10-day visit to four countries.  His first stop is the U.S., where he will meet with President Bush to discuss Sino-U.S. relations.  Wen Jiabao is well prepared for the trip, especially on the Taiwan independence issue.  It is expected that he will explain China's bottom line to the U.S. and seek cooperation.  The Taiwanese People's Progressive Party is very anxious about this.  Taiwanese officials recently stated that 'the U.S. will not sacrifice Taiwan's interests.'  This is obviously just 'self-comfort.'  China and the U.S. may not reach an agreement but they will surely come to a consensus....  Chen Shui-bian may have it wrong this time....  If Taiwan declares independence, China will definitely wage war.  Hu and Wen look soft but they are tough--they will be firm on Taiwan independence.  President Bush is in a sorry plight in the war on counter-terrorism.  U.S. forces have sunk deeply into the mud in Iraq.  'Terrorist mogul' bin Laden is still at large.  The U.S. basically cannot afford to 'take care of' Taiwan....  Thus, it would rather bargain with Beijing to secure its economic interests.  What will the U.S. ask for?  It will soon be known.  It is clearly shown in the words and manner of Taiwan's People Progressive Party that it fears betrayal."


"Taiwan On Wen's Agenda"


The independent English-language Standard editorialized (12/8):  "Against such a background, the Taiwan issue will probably be on top of Wen's agenda in his current U.S. trip.  It is expected that Wen, in addition to hearing Washington reiterate its 'one China' policy, would ask the U.S. to take concrete measures to help check the pro-independence movement in Taiwan, such as to clearly state that the U.S. opposes the independence of Taiwan.  Wen may also ask Washington to stop, or at least to scale down, its arms sales to Taiwan which Beijing always regards as an encouragement to pro-independence elements....  Another major task for Wen is to iron out trade frictions between the two countries.  The U.S. trade deficit with China is expanding....  Given that strong economic ties have been formed between China and the U.S., there are reasons to remain cautiously optimistic that the current trade conflicts between them will be amicably resolved."


"Give The Rhetoric A Rest, Mr. Chen"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post declared (12/8):  "Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's re-election bid, even with many months remaining before the vote, has not wanted for drama....  Realists on both sides of the strait, and in the U.S., say Mr. Chen has no intention of doing anything akin to declaring independence.  Any move in that direction would provoke a certain response from the U.S., the ally upon which Taiwan depends for its security, but also an ally that has been pursuing a policy of constructive diplomatic engagement with the mainland....  We would say that Mr. Chen should reciprocate by acting in an equally cool and calm manner instead of playing a dangerous game of provoking the central government as a means of courting the pro-independence vote.  If he goes too far down the path of declaring independence, it would mean abandonment by the U.S., the one ally Taiwan needs most, and certain war with the mainland.  Economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan are increasingly binding the island's prosperity to stability in the cross-strait relationship....  In the interests of peace across the Taiwan Strait and in the region, Mr. Chen should tone down his rhetoric."


"Two Powers Will Meet"


Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal opined (12/8):  "The emergence of a strong China means that a new star has been born.  How will the U.S., a leader in the West, coexist with this new star?  Can the U.S. avoid clashes with China?  All these are the keys to the success for Wen Jiabao's visit.  The Taiwan Strait crisis and the trade disputes have had a negative impact on Sino-U.S. relations.  But if the leaders of the two countries can deal with the disputes, Wen Jiabao's U.S. visit can still be a success....  Populism in the U.S. is on the rise and will be further intensified in the election year.  Thus, if China and the U.S. want to come into a consensus over the economic issue, they will have to overcome many obstacles.  However, Bush dared risk votes by lifting the steel tariffs....  As long as the U.S. and China learn that cooperation equals enjoying prosperity together, conflicts can be avoid.  However...if the U.S. is determined to be the sole superpower in the world, every move in the Taiwan Strait and Asia-Pacific area will be viewed as a potential threat.  Politics is, after all, the most difficult barrier for Premier Wen in his U.S. visit."


"The Greatest Threat For The Taiwan Strait Comes From 'Taiwan Independence'"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily observed (12/8):  "Chen Shui-bian turns a blind eye to China's objections, the strong discomfort of the international community as well as the worries of mainstream Taiwanese....  Chen finally put forward a newly packaged 'referendum'--an 'anti-missile, anti-war' referendum....  China has always devoted itself to work for peaceful unification.  However, it will never promise giving up military means aimed at Taiwan separatists who are threatening the peace.  Yesterday, Chen Shui-bian openly stated that 'Taiwan is not a part of China.'  It is obvious that still at the brink of the precipice.  He is still holding the live wire of 'Taiwan independence' and obsessively playing a dangerous game that may ignite the flames of war."


"Diplomatic Dances"


C.K. Lau wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/6):  "The central government has long felt that U.S. President George W. Bush is to blame for the latest cross-strait crisis.  In 2001, Mr. Bush said he would do whatever it took to help Taiwan defend itself, and had toyed with the idea of selling more defensive weapons to the island from time to time.  Mr. Bush's supportive utterances over Taiwan have since been exploited by the pro-independence camp to push their cause.  Any contact, formal or informal, between Taiwan and U.S. officials has been seen as official U.S. backing of Taipei.  This was why Beijing was infuriated when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shook hands with Mr. Chen during a chance encounter in Panama last month.  Mr. Chen's aides claimed the contact was actually planned....  But Mr. Wen is expected to tell Washington that Taiwan is a matter of territorial integrity over which China will not budge, although analysts note that there are signs Beijing has grudgingly accepted that it might have to rely on the U.S. to rein in the pro-independence Taiwanese government."


"U.S. Attitude Toward 'Taiwan Independence' Is Not Clear Enough"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (12/6):  "People generally believe that U.S. comments on 'Taiwan independence' and 'Taiwanese referendum' are clearer and more definite than before.  On the one hand, this shows that the Bush administration feels growing anxiety over the tense situation in Taiwan....  On the other hand, it is a response to the grave warning given by the Chinese authorities and their criticisms of the U.S.' signals to Taiwan.  Chinese State Council's Premier Wen Jiabao will visit the U.S. next week.  The Bush administration wants to show a clearer Taiwan policy through official remarks so as to prevent the U.S.-China summit from getting entangled in the Taiwan issue to the exclusion of other important issues such as economy and trade, the DPRK nuclear issue....  To improve Sino-U.S. relations, both sides have to make an effort.  At the moment, the Bush administration should change its stance over the Taiwan issue....  As some renowned scholars suggested, the Bush administration should shift from 'not supporting Taiwan independence' to 'opposing Taiwan independence.'"


"Wen's Trip Can Cement Common Understanding"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post observed (12/5):  "In the run-up to Premier Wen's departure there have been encouraging signs China and the U.S. are beginning to realize just how important they are to each other....  And both countries know they can only gain from continuing to develop their economic ties....  Even on Taiwan, such a source of friction, the gap between the two countries' positions appears to be narrowing....  There are tentative signs that they may be prepared to work together to ensure matters do not get out of hand.  China's role as an emerging economic power and increasingly significant player in international affairs means it will continue to be viewed with some suspicion by the U.S.  The love-hate relationship is not going to end just yet.  But threats to Sino-U.S. ties can now be dealt with in a more mature and understanding environment.  This development can be further cemented by Mr. Wen's visit."


"Chen Shui-bian Will Eat His Own Bitter Fruit"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News thundered (12/4):  "The U.S., of course, has its own axe to grind on the Taiwan issue.  The U.S. administration aims at maintaining the status quo, which is in its best interest, in the Taiwan Strait....  The U.S. has relied on assurances given by Chen Shui-bian.  Now Chen Shui-bian keeps on 'setting fires'....  The U.S. cannot allow Chen Shui-bian to impair its strategic interests, nor can the U.S. ignore China's strong reaction.  Once again, Beijing delivered a grave warning to Chen Shui-bian.  Washington may be starting to feel that Beijing's warnings are no longer empty threats....  China and the U.S. both want to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait....  Chen Shui-bian should ponder deeply and do soul-searching.  For the sake of his own interests as well as the party's interests, Chen should avoid getting entangled in the 'referendum' issue."


"On The Defensive"


Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/4):  "The timing of the proposed referendum makes clear that the move is an integral part of his election strategy.  Mr. Chen's audacity is breathtaking.  Apparently, he is willing to risk the lives and property of the 23 million people of Taiwan to lock in the votes of his pro-independence constituents.  But the move may yet backfire.  There are reports of dissenting voices within the DPP.  Even the pro-independence newspaper the Taipei Times said in an editorial: 'Taiwan is simply not in a state of 'imminent threat'....  What might turn it ugly, in fact, is [Mr] Chen's call for a sovereignty vote'....  It is still possible that a showdown with the mainland can be avoided with some adroit manoeuvring on Taiwan's part. Chiou I-jen, the presidential secretary-general, has reiterated that a referendum would not be about unification or independence, but would allow Taiwan to focus on the grave threats from the mainland.  Until the wording of the referendum proposal is made available, we will not know exactly what the people of Taiwan are going to be asked to decide.  But it does appear that Mr. Chen is skating on extremely thin ice."


"If The U.S. Pushes For Taiwanese Independence, It Will Draw Fire Against Itself"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily remarked (12/3):  "If war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, it will bring misfortune to China and the U.S.  If the U.S. seeks to save face by intervening in the war, it will definitely draw fire on itself.  The Chinese are willing to pay any price....  How many losses can the U.S. take for the sake of the Taiwan independence faction?  If war in the Taiwan Strait is inevitable, China may sell its $100-billion U.S. bonds.  Can the weak U.S. dollar bear such a huge impact?  More importantly, if the U.S. intervenes in the Taiwan Strait, Sino-U.S. trade relations will break off.  The large number of Chinese products will no longer be exported to the U.S.  What kind of impact will that have on the living standards of the American people?  Of course, there will be many more consequences.  Intervention in the Taiwan Strait is not in the U.S.' interest.  After fully evaluating the situation, the U.S. administration finally issued a warning yesterday to Taiwan independence elements.  This is a wise move."


"Beijing's Move To Force The U.S. To Pressure Taiwan Works"


Independent Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News editorialized (12/3):  "At the very beginning when Chen Shui-bian advocated the idea of a referendum, Beijing feared that adopting a tough stance would only stir-up the Taiwan people and help Ah Bian to solicit more votes.  Thus, Beijing's response was calm and measured.  It hoped to continue to make use of the U.S. to put pressure on Taiwan, in other words, to lobby the U.S. via diplomatic means to dissuade Taiwan from moving toward independence.  However, recent U.S. moves made Beijing suspect that Washington might be supporting Taiwan independence factions.  Therefore, Chinese leaders decided to adjust their strategy from 'asking the U.S. to pressure Taiwan' to 'pushing the U.S. to pressure Taiwan.'  Beijing knows that maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is in the best interests of the U.S....  China's tough stance finally forced the U.S. to face reality and do something to check the Democratic Progressive Party's actions.  The statement made yesterday by the U.S. State Department's spokesperson is a friendly gesture toward Beijing before Premier Wen Jiabao visits the U.S.  The statement shows that the U.S. pledge on the Taiwan issue is not 'a blank check.'  Beijing's strategy of forcing the U.S. to pressure Taiwan was successful." 


"Time For Reunification If Taiwan Separatists Start To Move"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily commented (12/2):  "If Taiwan independent factions attempt to split China, the central government is willing to pay any price, even using force, to unify Taiwan and free itself from worry....  As long as Taiwan independence factions dare to risk universal condemnation and stir up war by splitting the country, any measures to wipe them out will be supported by the rest of the world.  Taiwanese independence is not only a major worry for China; it is also a major worry for the rest of Asia....  Although China is not as powerful as the U.S., it still has the capability to remove any obstacles that check its dream of reunification.  Will the U.S. dare declare war on China just to save face?....  If the Taiwan independence factions dare challenge China, the central government and 1.3 billion Chinese people will adopt resolute measures to complete their reunification dream."


TAIWAN:  "Angel Turns into a Warden: Bush Administration's Attitude Has Changed from Ambiguity to Clarity"


Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News maintained (12/8):  "In sum, the Bush administration was at first very friendly with Taiwan, and there used to be different voices in the U.S. about Washington's cross-Strait policy.  But President Chen's [recent movement] has probably forced the U.S. to end the debate earlier and to warn his administration in an unambiguous way not to move toward Taiwan independence.  In terms of international and cross-Strait relationships, Chen has, on the strategic aspect, underestimated Beijing's backlashes and its bargaining chips.  On the tactics front, however, he has overestimated or misjudged Washington's gesture of goodwill and has thus pushed the campaign into the most sensitive area, which has, in the end, proved to be a dead end."


"The U.S. Should Pay Attention To China Where There Is No Democracy Rather Than Bow to China's Request to Restrain Taiwan's Democracy"


Pro-independence Taiwan Daily argued (12/8):  "In other words, a preventive referendum is not designated to challenge the U.S. government's 'red line' or to provoke Beijing on its 'one China' policy. Rather, it is a procedure that appeals to democracy and people's rights, an attempt to highlight Taiwan's complete and independent sovereignty which could not be unilaterally changed by any military force.  This is a dispute of ideas between democratic Taiwan and totalitarian China.  The U.S., which is founded on the belief in human rights, should naturally stand on the side of democracy."


"U.S. Should Not Oppose Referendum"


Pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times declared (12/8):  "Threatened by China, Taiwan is justified in holding a defensive referendum to express the people's discontent.  What the U.S. opposes is a referendum to change the status quo.  The government has clarified that the defensive referendum will not touch upon the independence-unification issue and Chen's 'five noes' policy.  Rather, it will maintain the status quo.  Since this is in line with the U.S.' cross-strait policy, Washington should have no reason to oppose it.  The U.S. Congress has also expressed its respect for the Taiwanese people's decision regarding their future.  Moreover, having been oppressed by China for a long time, the Taiwanese people are entitled to decide their own future.  Speaking in terms of democracy, human rights and Asia-Pacific regional security, the U.S. should support Taiwan's holding a harmless defensive referendum."


"A Comparison Between Lee Teng-hui's Experience In Dealing With The U.S. And That Of Chen Shui-bian's"


Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News noted (12/6):  "The greatest difference between Lee Teng-hui's and Chen Shui-bian's [American] experiences lies in the fact that Lee gave the U.S. an opportunity to interfere with the National Assembly's authority to amend the Constitution, whereas Chen not only allowed Washington to get involved in Taiwan's legislation but also to restrict Taiwan citizens' rights to vote. Both [Lee's and Chen's] moves have humiliated Taiwan, but they differed in degrees.  Regardless of the question of whether the Taiwan people support Taiwan independence or whether they support a referendum on Taiwan independence or not, it is after all a great disgrace to our government now that President Chen has allowed Americans to prohibit our rights to decide on the agenda for referendum.  Chen Shui-bian's administration is still saying smugly that the U.S. does not 'oppose Taiwan independence' and that Washington is just 'opposed to any referenda on Taiwan independence.'  In fact, the U.S., within the domain of its national policy, is entitled to oppose Taiwan independence.  But now Washington even moves to restrict Taiwan's democratic procedure of a public vote, it is a great insult to all the Taiwanese people.  It is President Chen Shui-bian who gave the U.S. such an opportunity to humiliate [Taiwan].  Now let's wait and see what happens when President Chen submits Taiwan's agenda for the 'defensive referendum' to the U.S. government for its approval."


"U.S. Action 'Too Little And Too Late?'"


Kuo Chen-lung maintained in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (12/5):  "Looking back at the past two months, [I found that] the diplomats in Washington have made at least three mistakes out of negligence:  First, they mistakenly took President Chen Shui-bian's call for referenda and a new constitution for campaign rhetoric, believing that he would not really take any action.  The Taiwan government also frequently sent officials to Washington to emphasize that they would not violate Chen's 'four No's and one will not' pledge.  Policy-makers in Washington were then busy dealing with Iraq and North Korea....  The U.S. did not realize that things had gone wrong until the passage of the Referendum Law....  Second, there is no constant policy inside the U.S. government.  Not only did the Blue Team, Red Team, State Department and the Defense Department fail to agree with each other, but within Washington's system of those in charge of Taiwan affairs...Doug Paal had a different agenda than that of Therese Shaheen.  Even when both the State Department and Paal discovered that things were getting out of control, the Taiwan authorities instead, simply 'ignored Paal and just honored whatever Shaheen said'....  Third, with the U.S. entering the campaign phase, President Bush of course cannot sacrifice U.S. national interest and bow to other countries....  Likewise, it would be definitely impossible for the U.S. president to abandon his commitment to Taiwan's security and allow Beijing to threaten Taiwan right before the U.S. presidential election.  As a matter of fact, many experts have pointed out that though Bush has adjusted the U.S. cross-Strait policy [from strategic ambiguity] to strategic clarity since he assumed office, he only focused on the scenario that 'the U.S. will not sit idle and watch Beijing use force against Taiwan.'  For other scenarios such as 'the PLA attacking Taiwan if the latter provokes Beijing by saying that it will change the status quo,' nobody believes that the U.S. will not send troops to come to Taiwan's rescue, for this would mean political suicide for Bush.  Such a presumption is like issuing a blank political check to Taipei, but nobody can do anything about it....  Policy makers in the U.S. seemed to wake up suddenly after [Chen] announced that Taiwan was going to hold a defensive referendum....  But are such moves taken just in preparation for Wen Jiabao's visit or are they out of an overall plan to reduce cross-Strait tension?  Regardless of the answer, what is worrisome is that whether the actions the U.S. takes now are already 'too little and too late?'  The cross-Strait situation probably will no longer be like four years ago, when it could be fixed by the 'four No's and one will not' pledge of the new president."  


"Chen Facing Dilemma In Plan To Hold Defensive Referendum"


Conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post declared (12/5):  "The U.S. administration must make its position on the [referendum] issue more clear.  Up to this point, the U.S. has followed a contradictory policy.  On the one hand, Washington keeps stressing that it does not want to see Taiwan moving toward independence, because it believes would cause increased tensions with mainland China and thus endanger the peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.  And this would harm America's interests in this part of the world.  But at the same time, it has maintained the same old tone of not supporting independence, refusing to adopt a stronger position by saying it is opposed to Taipei seeking to change the present political status.  Such policy ambiguity can be easily taken by the Chen administration as an encouragement to pursue a course of separation from China.  Now Washington, faced with unprecedented pressure from an angry Beijing, might have to change that ambiguity strategy; this has seen Chen's continuous push for referenda and the writing of a new Constitution as moves aimed at splitting China, and has threatened to block such policies even if this would mean a war against Taiwan....  Washington might not be willing to yield to Beijing's pressure and let it decide policy for the U.S.  But a refusal to accept the mainland demand won't calm Beijing's anger and defuse the rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.  Also, the U.S. could risk setting back its relations with the PRC, on which it now is reliant for cooperation on a range of thorny international issues."


"The Boundary Between Independence And Democracy: U.S. Opposes 'Gradual Movement' Towards Independence"


Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News opined (12/3):  "But it seems that President Chen Shui-bian and his [DPP] party always believe that Taiwan's democratic movements are equal to movements toward Taiwan independence.  They even consider Taiwan independence movements more important than democratic movements.  The U.S. authorities, on the contrary, believe that under the overall international framework, Taiwan's democracy seems to be moving in a cone-shaped tunnel, of which one end is the progressively narrowing road toward Taiwan independence while on the other end, there is plenty of room for improvement and perfection.  Does the road President Chen seeks and the road that Taiwan should take point in the same direction?  At a minimum, this is a question that the U.S. authorities have raised publicly."


"U.S. Bottom Line Happens To Give Credibility To [Taiwan's] Referendum To Defend Its Status Quo"


Su Yung-yao argued in pro-independence Liberty Times (12/3):  "The U.S. opposes any referenda on Taiwan independence, but to put it more precisely, the U.S.' focus is not on the referendum itself.  Furthermore, the U.S.' concept of Taiwan independence is different from that of China's.  The U.S. has always held a positive and supportive attitude toward Taiwan's democratic progress for more than ten years.  Besides, the defensive referendum that Taiwan calls for is designated to maintain the status quo.  Since it does not violate Chen's 'four No's and one will not' pledge, it obviously has nothing to do with the dispute whether Taiwan is pushing for Taiwan independence.  The bottom line that the U.S. has drawn for Taiwan, to a certain extent, can be viewed as 'an endorsement for the referenda.'  The U.S. not only has no need to oppose it if Taiwan's referendum is to affirm the status quo.  Instead, based on Washington's position that the cross-Strait disputes should be resolved peacefully, the U.S. will have obligations to step in and restrain China should any provocation or disruption occur as a result of Taiwan's referendum....  Therefore, the U.S.' patient and repeated statements are actually aimed at the other side of the Taiwan Strait." 


"Chen's New Attempt To Provoke Beijing Aims For Vote Gains"


Conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post noted (12/3):  "The real reason behind Chen's decision to call a referendum on the missile threat is that he wants to use his push for such a vote to restore confidence in him among his traditional pro-independence constituents.  They have felt betrayed by him in the passage of the watered-down referendum law last week.  Chen personally intervened to have a fellow party lawmaker-sponsored bill dropped after he was warned by both Beijing and Washington of serious consequences....  But it was irresponsible that Chen should have renewed his push for a provocative public vote as a means to consolidate voter support in spite of the possibility that such a move could bring about new tensions with Beijing and endanger the security of Taiwan."


SINGAPORE:  "Taiwan Tosses A Challenge"


The pro-government Straits Times declared (12/9):  "Mr. Chen means to project to the world that a positive public vote that opposes war and war-like acts would be as good as an affirmation of independence. The result would be sold as being opposed to China per se. This is a reckless path for Mr. Chen to choose....  There is a touch of demagoguery in his manner of presenting lurid choices to the voters.  Mr. Chen could be playing up the Taiwanese people's fears to turn around his campaign against the Kuomintang candidate....  On the other hand, he could be earnest about what he offers as justification for the move, which is to safeguard Taiwan's fragile democratic status which he sees as being imperiled by China's pledge to defend its honor, whatever it takes. Were this the case, the US should disabuse him of the notion that it can be manipulated, just by being Taiwan's consistent arms supplier. This is the message that Mr. Bush should put out forcefully at his meeting with Mr. Wen. Mr. Chen's choice of sport calls for a firm put-down.  What he may have overlooked is that his daring challenge, timed obviously for the Wen-Bush talks, puts pressure on the U.S. President to choose between Beijing and Taipei.  It cannot be done--without Mr. Bush weakening the US policy of supporting one China while at the same time discouraging the use of force by the mainland to reclaim Taiwan. The relationship between the US and China is firming on mutual interests that also serve a world cause--cooperation in fighting terror; stopping arms proliferation; neutering the perennial North Korean menace; spreading the benefits of international trade; improving human-rights practices in China. This is an impressive hierarchy of wants. Taiwan's pandering cannot be permitted to disrupt a relationship growing around such universal themes."


THAILAND:  “Chen Is Drawing On People’s Power”


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (12/9):  “Chen is testing the waters with Beijing on two major issues, and at a very sensitive time: the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan if it is attacked by China and the state of U.S.-China relations as they stand at the moment....  Obviously Chen is playing his ‘people power’ card.  If Taiwanese voters support the call for China’s removal of ballistic missiles then it will put extra pressure on Beijing, which has consistently threatened to use force if Taiwan declares independence.  Naturally it would be insane for Chen to take that fatal step, so his strategy, it seems, is to give the Taiwanese people a favorable environment in which to express themselves about their relationship with China and the confidence to do so....  What he has to keep a close eye on is Beijing’s relationship with Washington.  The new Chinese leadership, knowing how high the stakes are, needs to maintain stable and predictable relations with the world’s most powerful country.  With its growing political and economic clout, China is also increasing its international role.  But the threat to use force against Taiwan does not go down very well with its outward-looking diplomacy.  Therefore, the best option for both sides is to maintain the status quo across the straits, keeping it free from any tension that could stir up military reaction....  If Chen wins the presidential election, Beijing must find a way to deal with him.  Otherwise, the tension over the Taiwan Straits will rise, and that can only have long-term ill effects on the region’s stability and economic development.”


“Legal Dissent To Autocratic China”


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (12/5):  “Still more emotional was the adoption on Nov 27 of a new referendum law by the Taiwan legislature.  Legally, that may be the parliament of a Chinese province currently in rebellion but it has the power to infuriate Chinese leaders including new President Hu Jintao.  And however innocent Taiwanese leaders try to sound, the new law is obviously the latest in a series of steps to try to inflict independence by a thousand cuts on Beijing.  To that extent, no country owes Taiwan any support.  The one-China policy not only has become the pragmatic norm in an often violent world, but it also has created the atmosphere where Taiwan could become a democratic, thriving, economic powerhouse.  Anyone, anywhere, who thinks Taiwan will declare and attain independence is living in an alternate world.  China will not allow it, and has shown it is willing to cause massive destruction to prevent it.  It is possible to sympathize with the aspirations of Taiwanese and immigrant Chinese for a separate country.  It is impossible to support such a move, which would certainly cause war in East Asia, with economic and political fallout everywhere.  That is why the United States leapt so quickly to support the policy of one China.”




SRI LANKA:  "Dangerous Provocation"


Government-owned English-language Daily News editorialized (12/5):  "The proposal to hold a referendum on the island's future is likely to worsen cross-strait relations with mainland China....  There is no doubt that President Chen Shui-bian has taken this step emboldened by the aggressive policy of Washington.  Yet, it should be understood that the United States or even the United States and Japan jointly cannot provide a safety umbrella to Taiwan in case of a military confrontation across the Taiwan Straits. Taiwan's security lies not in weapons but in promoting cross-Strait exchanges....  It is up to the United States to restrain Taiwan and encourage it to seek a negotiated settlement with China.  Countries of South and South East Asia too have a responsibility to use their good offices in maintaining peace and tranquility in the region."




GERMANY:  "Taiwan As A Model"


Kai Strittmatter opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/5):  "China is again threatening to wage war against Taiwan because the term 'referendum' has an unpleasant sound for its communist rulers.  They are afraid that Taiwan's President Chen shui-ban wants to achieve Taiwan's independence via a detour....  But now Chen has downshifted gears.  Following an admonition from its ally in Washington, he said that the planned referendum in March will by no means contain the question of independence.  This is good, since Chen was elected to see to the well-being of the people.  But with respect to Chen's critics, they should not point their fingers at Chen and shout 'provocateur.'  We should not forget who is the aggressor in this dispute and who is threatening with war.  And there is a second simple truth: Taiwan's democracy should be precious to the world; it is priceless for the future of China.  It is a model."




CANADA:  "World To Taiwan:  Keep Quiet And Don't Rock The Boat"


Marcus Gee observed in the leading Globe and Mail (12/5):  "All [Taiwan] wants now is what every other country has: recognition that it is a country. The world is far from ready to give it. In fact, most other countries have reacted to Mr. Chen's pro-independence murmurings with barely concealed horror. The United States, though Taiwan's biggest patron, doesn't want to upset China, Asia's booming goliath. As Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao prepares to visit Washington next week, U.S. officials are urging Mr. Chen to clam up. That, indeed, is the world's attitude to Taiwan: Keep quiet and don't rock the boat. That's reasonable to a point. No one wants a war over Taiwan. Everyone hopes Mr. Chen won't needlessly provoke China. He himself has promised not to actually declare independence unless China attacks. But the world can't expect Taiwan to stay mum forever....  Whatever China may say, this is not a renegade province. This is a nation. Eventually, the world must recognize it."



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