Sun, Jul 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Rice's China visit restated old policies, lacked new ideas


While US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's recent meeting with top Chinese officials caused a small ripple of change in the standstill between Taiwan and China, experts said yesterday that the visit was mostly a reiteration of long-held principles.

"The two nations [the US and China] exchanged ideas on the issues that each hold as top priorities and issues of concern, but in the end they both basically just repeated cross-strait policies that have long been held," said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信), who is also head of the DPP's Mainland Affairs Department and a member of the Legislature's National Defense Committee.

Rice met with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) on Thursday.

Tai Wan-chin (戴萬欽), professor at the Institute of American Studies at Tamkang University, agreed with Chen. "The US did not make any concessions to China's requests, but it also made it clear that the US does not encourage Taiwan's independence," Tai said.

Tai said the US was unlikely to yield on arms sales to Taiwan during an election year as this could lead to campaign donations.

Chao Chien-min (趙建民) a political science professor at National Chengchi University, said that the Bush administration's willingness "to further dialogue [between Taiwan and China] if it's helpful" deserved special attention.

"In the past, the US has always encouraged dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, but it has refrained from interfering. However, for the first time the US seems willing to act as a mediator and to facilitate dialogue," Chao said.

In the Six Assurances that the US made to Taiwan in 1982, the US agreed that it would not mediate between Taiwan and China.

"If what Rice said indicates that the US will work to further dialogue, it will not necessarily be to Taiwan's benefit, because the US holds to the `one China' policy. Will the US pressure Taiwan by saying that Taiwan is halting cross-strait dialogue with its refusal to accept the 1992 consensus?" Chao said.

However, Tai found talk of the US stepping in to mediate cross-strait dialogue to be "just rhetoric."

"In reality, the US has always been the mediator. Taiwan wants the US to intervene in the case of external threat, and China knows that cross-strait exchange is best done through the US," Tai said.

"The US will work toward getting both parties to sign an interim agreement, but this is highly difficult ? and at this point, while the US will aim for an interim agreement, it does not have the power to impose its formula on cross-strait relations," Tai explained.

In addition, reports that Rice had rebuffed Chinese Foreign Minister Li's "three stop" request were viewed as an indication of China's view on the current cross-strait situation.

China's "three stops" request demands that the US stop selling advanced arms to Taiwan, stop all official engagement with Taiwan, and stop offering Taiwan its assistance in gaining representation in international organizations where statehood is required.

Chao pointed to several events that could have indicated a possible "warming up" of US-Taiwan ties to China and consequently brought about the "three stops" demand.

"The arms sale has led to a lot of quarreling in Taiwan, but it is the biggest arms purchase since 1992 ? The US has improved both the quality and the quantity of arms sales to Taiwan," Chao said.

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