Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 8 News List

A peaceful resolution to conflict

By Chris Wu 伍凡

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) brought with him a few important issues during his US visit -- the issues of Taiwan, Sino-US trade relations, nuclear arms development on the Korean Peninsula and global terrorism. Among them, the issue of Taiwan and Sino-US trade relations concern Beijing the most.

The response Wen got from US President George W. Bush on Taiwan was: no independence for Taiwan, no use of military force from Beijing and maintaining the status quo.

What Bush said at a press conference was this: "Let me tell you what I've just told the premier on this issue. The United States government's policy is `one China,' based upon the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose."

This statement was exactly what Beijing wanted, so Wen said he "very much" appreciated the position adopted by Washington, the essence of which was no independence for Taiwan, no use of military force from Beijing and maintaining the status quo.

The US is facing difficulties in Iraq. Washington needs Beijing's help to deal with the nuclear problem in North Korea and global terrorism. In view of his country's interests, Bush of course does not want to see any conflicts in the Taiwan Strait to make the situation worse. The proposal of a defensive referendum or an independence-unification referendum by the Taiwanese authorities can potentially change the status quo. Based on the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is obliged to help defend Taiwan in case of any military threats from China. Washington is most reluctant to let Taiwan decide whether a conflict is to erupt between the US and China. Beijing, on the other hand, cannot accept Taiwan's formal independence. Chinese leaders are afraid that Chinese people would accuse them of doing nothing about the loss of Taiwan. Under such circumstances, China's military intimidation against Taiwan does concern the US.

Bush's statement not only looked after US interests but also proved to be the best way at the moment to protect Taiwan's democracy from a Chinese invasion.

However, is the US policy drastically tilted toward Beijing? No. The long-term strategies and policies of the US for cross-strait relations have not changed. The US still insists on "one China" and a peaceful resolution, and opposes Beijing's military violation of Taiwan. Bush said to Wen in a straightforward manner: "Look, you know, if you force us, if you try to use force or coercion against Taiwan, we're going to be there."

Here are the basic points of America's long-term strategies and policies for the cross-strait issue:

China and the US have different ideologies and social systems, thus different strategic interests.

China is a large country on the rise and has the potential to become a strong power, so the US has to take precautions. That's why it will not easily leave Taiwan to Beijing's authoritarian dictatorship.

The US wants China to become a democracy so as to fundamentally eradicate the possibility of major conflicts between the two countries. Taiwan's democratic system represents an excellent model and puts pressure on Beijing to reform its authoritarian regime and social system. In fact, Taiwan's influence on China over the past 25 years surpasses people's imagination. It will continue to expand its economic, social and political influence, thereby promoting the development of democracy in China.

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