Fri, Jun 13, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Proceed with caution in PRC talks

By Paul Lin 林保華

Talks were due to resume between Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) yesterday. In a certain sense, these talks will be an icebreaker. Although talks between both sides have been frozen for many years now and the current talks represent some progress, the Taiwanese delegation should still handle the negotiations very delicately.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) have both used an ice analogy, saying that “Ice cannot be melted too quickly, otherwise it could cause a flood.” Still, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has high hopes for improving cross-strait relations with the talks.

This round of talks will be conducted on a higher level than previous ones. The SEF was previously an association designed precisely to keep government officials out of cross-strait talks. However, high-ranking officials took part in past negotiations, with even the vice chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council attending talks.

The problem with this is that if difficulties are encountered during talks where government officials are involved, it is harder for the officials to pull out and put an end to the talks. So, just why did those officials take part in the previous negotiations? Was it because the SEF was not prepared for the talks or because the government was worried?

Ma has said that unification cannot be discussed for as long as China refuses to change its official stance on the Tiananmen Square Massacre. However, with government officials now set to take part in the upcoming talks, we are in reality moving increasingly closer to unification talks.

In a speech by Ma earlier this month on the 19th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, he focused on Taiwan a lot less than in the past, which was extremely worrying.

On May 13, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported on a research paper written by Chan Man-jung (詹滿容) of the National Security Council (NSC) in which she said that changes in Taiwan’s trade policies with China should be carried out according to WTO regulations and that haste be avoided in resuming talks with China.

This is exactly the stance that Taiwan should have had going into the new cross-strait talks. However, with Ma’s preference for “Chinese Taipei,” it seems that on the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty things are about to take a turn for the worse. This is a sad state of affairs.

The way in which both sides tried to annihilate each other in past talks between the KMT and China should be avoided in this new round of talks. What is needed is an understanding of the opposition’s strategy. Li Kenong (李克農), referred to as the most important special agent in the history of the Communist Party of China (CCP) by Mao Zedong (毛澤東), successfully pulled off a counter-offensive plan against General Zhang Xueliang (張學良).

At the beginning of the 1950s, Li directed ceasefire talks when China intervened in the Korean War. After this, Li played a major role in other important negotiations between China and other nations. Li stated that there are seven main strategies in negotiation. The first strategy he defined was expounding one’s political principles to the enemy and making one’s stance clear.

“This is how we gain a political advantage over an opponent. This can be likened to artillery attacks before major warfare is waged,” Li said.

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