Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), scheduled to retire in 2013, is apparently keen to make a breakthrough on Taiwan his legacy, the US embassy in Beijing learned from its sources in the Chinese capital, according to a cable recently released by WikiLeaks.
The cable, issued by the US embassy in Beijing on Feb. 27, 2009, showed that the US has learned from at least two sources that Hu believes that his Taiwan policy, and not China’s Scientific Development Concept (SDC), should be his -primary political legacy.
As early as 2006, Hu established a “research team,” which was still active when the cable was sent, staffed by leading Chinese academics and other experts to develop a “new way forward” on Taiwan, the cable said, based on information which came from “an Embassy contact with access to the Chinese leadership.”
The group’s goal was to find a path that lay somewhere between the “one country, two systems” approach that remained unacceptable to Taiwan and anything that smacked of “special state-to-state relations,” which remained anathema to China, it said.
The cable showed that the US embassy learned from its contact that Tsinghua University Law School Dean Wang Zhengmin (王振明) was a member of this study group.
In the cable the US embassy quoted its contact as saying that Hu wanted to “do something big” on Taiwan, just as the agreement to return Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China is part of the legacy of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平).
According to the cable, the embassy’s contact dismissed Hu’s -signature domestic policy as “rubbish” and reiterated that in his view, a breakthrough on Taiwan would be far more important than anything Hu might accomplish through his promotion of the SDC.
The US embassy said the lack of a substantive response from President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to Hu’s six-point proposal on cross-strait relations is a concern to China’s leaders.
Hu’s six points include: firm adherence to the “one China” principle and enhancement of mutual political trust; strengthening economic ties and promoting joint development; cultivating Chinese culture and stressing cross-strait spiritual links; promoting personnel visits and broadening exchanges; allowing Taiwan’s “reasonable” participation in global organizations under the principle of national sovereignty and ending cross-strait hostility and reaching a peace agreement.
Meanwhile, another cable recently released by WikiLeaks, dated Jan. 6, 2009, also from the US embassy in Beijing, offered insights from Clark Randt, US ambassador to China from July 2001 to January 2009, on the US-China relationship, to mark the 30 anniversary of diplomatic relations. Randt said that Taiwan was the most vexing issue holding up the establishment of relations 30 years ago and remained the toughest issue for US-China relations despite significant improvement in cross-strait ties since the election of Ma.
“It will remain a delicate topic for the foreseeable future. We should continue to support Taiwan and Mainland efforts to reduce tension by increasing Taiwan’s ‘international space’ and reducing the Mainland’s military build-up across from Taiwan,” Randt was quoted as saying in the cable.
The US should be cautious about predicting that the People’s Liberation Army’s long-term objectives are modest, he said.