Bush, Hu on Taiwan
In President Hu's arrival ceremony at the White House South Lawn on April 20 at 9:44 a.m., President stated on Taiwan: "The United States will also be candid about our policy toward Taiwan. The United States maintains our one China policy based on the three communiqu? and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side, and we urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts. And we believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully."
President Hu remarked on Taiwan: "President Bush, you and the U.S. government have stated on various occasions that you are committed to the one-China policy, abide by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques, and oppose Taiwan independence. We appreciate your commitments. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. We will continue to make every effort and endeavor with every sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification of the two sides across the Taiwan Straits. We will work with our Taiwan compatriots to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. However, we will never allow anyone to make Taiwan secede from China by any means."
After their meeting, President Bush remarked at the Oval Office regarding Taiwan: "We spent time talking about Taiwan, and I assured the President my position has not changed. I do not support independence for Taiwan." President Hu stated: "And during the meeting I stressed the importance of the Taiwan question to Mr. President. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and we maintain consistently that under the basis of the one China principle, we are committed to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and to the promotion of the improvement and development of the cross-straits relations. We have the utmost sincerity and we will do this to our utmost with all sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification. This being said, we will by no means allow Taiwan independence. President Bush gave us his understanding of the Chinese concerns. He reiterated the American positions and said that he does not hope that the moves taken by the Taiwan authorities to change the status quo will upset the China-U.S. relationship, which I am highly appreciative."
Taiwan's fading independence movement, says Robert S. Ross
In his article published in Foreign affairs (Mar/Apr 2006), Robert S. Ross, Professor of Political Science at Boston College, considers Taiwan's independence movement fading. He says:
Political development in Taiwan over the past year have effectively ended the independence movement there. What had been a major source of regional instability--and the most likely source of a great-power war anywhere in the world--has become increasingly irrelevant. The peaceful transformation of relations between China and Taiwan will help stabilize eastern Asia, reduce the likelihood of conflict between China and the United States, and present an opportunity for Beijing, Taipei, and Washington to adjust their defense postures--all without hurting Taiwan's security or threatening U.S. interests.
Taiwan's independence movement gained momentum in 1995 when Washington allowed Taiwan's then president, Lee Teng-hui, to visit the United States. . . Before that trip, the United States had long banned visits by Taiwan's leaders in deference to Beijing's insistence that Taiwan is a Chinese province. By suddenly allowing Lee to visit, Washington seemed to Beijing to be encouraging independence. . .
After 1996, the situation remained tense, and the repeated steps toward independence taken by Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's president since 2000, fanned the flames. Although the independence movement enjoyed a high profile internationally, it never won widespread domestic support. The increasingly unpopular Chen and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the driving forces behind the independence movement in recent years, have suffered several electoral defeats, and advocates of greater cooperation with the mainland have gained ground. A new, calmer era in cross-strait relations seems to be dawning. . .
By the mid-1990s, the "Taiwan identity" movement had become a major force in Taiwanese
politics. But it has not resulted in widespread calls for a formal declaration of independence.
Voters, reflecting Beijing's military and economic hold on the island, have preferred to
accommodate China's opposition to Taiwan's independence. By 2000, thanks to its
accelerated missile and aircraft deployments, Beijing had developed the capability to destroy Taiwan's
prosperity before the United States would have time to intervene. Equally important, the rapid growth of China's economy has given Beijing leverage over Taiwan's economy. In 2001, the mainland became Taiwan's most important export market (in 2005, it bought approximately 40 percent of Taiwan's exports), and since 2002, more than half of Taiwan's foreign investment has gone there. Without firing a shot, therefore, China could cause chaos in Taiwan. . .
Despite his shallow support and the mainland's growing ability to destabilize Taiwan, Chen has continued to risk war by pushing for independence. In the run-up to the legislative elections of December 2004, for example, he and his supporters repeatedly indicated that they might seek to adopt a new constitution that would reflect what he called Taiwan's "present realities," perhaps by changing the country's formal name from "the Republic of China" to "the Republic of Taiwan" or by renouncing Taipei's formal territorial claims to the mainland. Beijing has long maintained that it would consider such changes acts of War. But Chen and his supporters dismissed such threats as empty talk, arguing that China's domestic problems (such as high unemployment, rural instability, and the regime's declining legitimacy), combined with the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan, had reduced China to a "paper tiger." Beijing responded to Chen's provocations by escalating its threats to use force, prompting the Bush administration to step in and discourage Taipei from such moves. . .
In March 2005, China's legislature, the National People's Congress, passed the Anti-Secession Law, which codified Beijing's threat to go to war if Taiwan declared independence, thus inflaming public opinion in Taiwan against the mainland. Nonetheless, KMT Chair Lien Chan (Lee's former vice president) traveled to Beijing in April, the first visit to the mainland by a leader of one of Taiwan's major political parties since 1949. Lien and Hu jointly declared their opposition to Taiwan's independence and their support for the "1992 consensus," in which Taiwan and the mainland agreed that there is "one China" (although it should be noted that Taiwan held to its own interpretation of the meaning of "one China"). . . Polls taken shortly after Lien's trip showed that 56 percent of Taiwan's electorate supported his visit and that 46 percent believed that the KMT was the party most capable of handling cross-strait relations. Only 9.4 percent believed that the DPP was most capable. . .
The KMT's new strategy has paid off handsomely. The opposition dealt the DPP a major defeat in the December 2005 local and municipal elections; Chen's party won only 6 of the 23 open posts, while the KMT-led coalition carried the rest. Although corruption in the DPP was a major campaign issue, so too was the party's policy toward the mainland. Once again, voters opted for cross-strait stability and pragmatic diplomatic and economic policies. Since the election, support for Chen and the DPP has been in free fall. Only 10 percent of the electorate--and 5 percent of the business community--approved of Chen in December's polls; the DPP's approval rating was 18 percent. . .
Taiwan's electorate has consistently rejected a declaration of independence; the risks are simply too great. . .
Washington has long considered Taiwan's moves toward independence a threat to U.S. security because they could lead to war. . . Now that Taiwan's independence movement is waning, and the risks of war between China and the United States are receding, defending U.S. interests in the region will become far easier.
Lien Chan calls for joint efforts to promote cross-strait peace
Both the mainland and Taiwan should reinforce efforts to promote peace and opening-up across the Taiwan Strait, visiting Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Party Honorary Chairman Lien Chan said Sunday, April 16, in Beijing. Both sides should endeavor toward unity, peace and opening-up, as "the cross-strait relations are now in a seesaw struggle between peace and opening-up on one side and conflicts and closure on the other," said Lien Chan.
Lien made the remarks during his second meeting in a year with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, in the Great Hall of People in downtown Beijing. Hu and Lien met for the first time in Beijing in April last year when Lien, then chairman of the Taiwan-based KMT party, had an "ice-breaking" journey to the mainland.
Noting that peace is the basis of prosperity, development and survival, Lien expressed his hopes that both sides should continue their efforts to tackle more rigorous challenges in all aspects, including the mechanisms of peace and security and participation in the world arena.
The KMT honorary chairman pointed out that the mainland and Taiwan share complementary economic conditions and both sides cherish the more and more intimate economic ties very much. Lien called on compatriots from both sides of the Taiwan Strait to overcome challenges and continue to pursue peace, so as to create cross-Strait economic prosperity.
Hu echoed Lien's remarks by saying that peace and development should be the theme of cross-Strait relations, and the common goal of people in both the mainland and Taiwan. (Source: Xinhua).
Hu Jintai adheres to "1992 censuses"
Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Sunday, April 16, said adhering to the "1992 consensus" is the vital foundation for peace and development across the Taiwan Straits. The "1992 consensus" refers to the common belief that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China.
At a meeting with Honorary Chairman Lien Chan of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, Hu said that though China is not reunified yet, the fact that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China has not changed, and the bonds of flesh and blood between compatriots on both sides of the strait have not changed.
He recalled that 14 years ago it was based on the above-mentioned common understanding and their wish to seek common ground while shelving differences that the two sides reached the "1992 consensus," which resulted in the "Wang-Koo Talks" in 1993. The "Wang-Koo Talks" refers to the landmark meeting in 1993 between Wang Daohan, president of the mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Koo Chen-fu, chairman of the Taiwan-based Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF), in Singapore in April 1993. It was the first ever high-level, non-governmental talks across the Taiwan Straits.
In his second suggestion to boost cross-Straits relations, Hu said, "it's the ultimate goal to seek interests for the people across the Taiwan Straits when we are working for peaceful development in cross-Strait relations."
Thirdly, a mutually complementary and beneficial relationship is the effective way for realizing peaceful development across the Straits, said Hu.
The booming non-governmental cooperation across the Straits over the past more than 20 years has resulted in a mutually complementary and beneficial situation in general. Under such circumstances, the interests of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits has been closely related.
Fourthly, Hu said, equal consultation is the only way to achieve peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
Hu recalled the consensus he reached with Lien in their first meeting last year, and said "we (CPC and KMT) should make joint efforts for the re-opening of equal consultation across the Straits on the basis of the '1992 consensus' as soon as possible
Chen's plan on Taiwan constitution
In an interview with the Washington Post reporters, President Chen Shui-bian said March 13 that he will soon open debate on a new constitution for Taiwan, including the explosive issues of sovereignty, territory and formal independence for the self-ruled island. Chen, in a 90-minute conversation at the presidential palace in Taipei, suggested he will continue to insist on making his dream of formal independence the main item on Taiwan's political agenda. But at the same time, he said, Beijing and Washington should not get upset, since the opposition Nationalist Party has the votes in the Legislative Yuan to prevent his ambitions from being translated into law for the time being. Chen's vow of a debate on such constitutional issues as sovereignty and formal independence indicated that the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait will continue to be a source of tension and danger in the Asia-Pacific region, involving the United States and Japan as well as China.
Chen's comments intended to solidify the pro-independence base of his Democratic Progressive Party and forced the Nationalist Party to deal with a subject.
At a rally Sunday in Taipei, tens of thousands of Nationalists shouted their opposition to Chen, saying he should avoid riling Taiwan's giant neighbor and focus more on improving the economy. The Nationalist leader and the party's probable presidential candidate in 2008, Ma Ying-jeou, drew cheers when he denounced the Chen government for what he called corruption and lack of concern for how most people live. (Source: Edward Cody and Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, Mar.14, 2006).
Beijing reacts on Taiwan leader's termination of unification council
President Hu Jintao of China reacted sharply on February 28 to the decision by President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan to terminate the island's unification council, calling it "a grave provocation" and "a dangerous step on the road toward Taiwan independence." Mr. Chen on February 28 completed the formalities for scrapping the National Unification Council and unification guidelines with mainland China which Mr. Chen had once vowed to preserve.
Many Chinese foreign policy experts expected that the Bush administration would do more than it had done to prevent Mr. Chen from trying to legalize Taiwan's de facto independence. The United States has tried to check creeping moves toward independence. Washington needs China's help in managing pressing problems like the nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran, and seems determined to prevent Taiwan from undermining diplomatic ties to Beijing.
After a concerted diplomatic push by the Bush administration, Mr. Chen modified the wording of his order, saying the council would "cease to function" rather than be abolished, the term he had used in January. He also reiterated his pledge to maintain the status quo in cross-strait relations. (Source: Joseph Kahn and Keith Bradsherd, New York Times, Mar. 1, 2006)
A joint statement issued by the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said that Chen's efforts will bring disaster to Taiwanese society. "Chen Shui-bian has obstinately promoted a radical 'Taiwan independence' line and stirred up all-round confrontation and conflict within Taiwan and across the Taiwan Strait" the statement said.(Source: Shanghai Daily, Mar. 1, 2006).
State Department questions Chen's cessation of National Unification Council
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman, U.S. State Department released a statement on March 2 on Chen Shui-pian's announcement of ceasing the National Unification Council. The statement reads:
We have seen reports that senior Taiwan officials have said, with respect to the National Unification Council, that there is no distinction between "abolish" and "ceasing activity" and that the effect of Taiwan's action earlier this week was to abolish the Council.
We have been informed, however, that the reports misquoted Taiwan officials. We expect the Taiwan authorities publicly to correct the record and unambiguously affirm that the February 27 announcement did not abolish the National Unification Council, did not change the status quo, and that the assurances remain in effect.
Our understanding from the authorities in Taiwan was that the action Taiwan took on February 27 was deliberately designed not to change the status quo, as Chen Shui-bian made clear in his 7-point statement.
Abrogating an assurance would be changing the status quo, and that would be contrary to that understanding.
We believe the maintenance of Taiwan's assurances is critical to preservation of the status quo. Our firm policy is that there should be no unilateral change in the status quo, as we have said many times.