Mon, May 09, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Be wary of China's new grand strategy

Any mention of Lin Chong-pin is invariably preceded by a string of titles that speak of his achievements as an expert on cross-strait and defense policy. He has held key posts within the nation's cross-strait policymaking machine, serving previously as Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman, senior adviser to the National Security Council and deputy minister of national defense. Lin identified emerging trends in the China-Taiwan relationship with 'Taipei Times' reporters Rich Chang and Joy Su last week


In this Oct. 27 file photo, Lin Chong-pin, a professor at Tamkang University Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, gives a presentation to the Mainland Affairs Council.


Taipei Times: How do you view Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) trip to China?

Lin Chong-pin (林中斌): I've been saying that this event signifies two things. The good news is that a cross-strait war seems even more unlikely -- Beijing doesn't need to use another instrument to achieve its ultimate objective. The bad news is that Taiwan may lose its sovereignty gradually. Or Taiwan's sovereignty may be eroded away little by little. So both good news and bad news are coming toward us at the same time.

TT: Will Taiwan's society be polarized by Lien's trip? What is the impact of this polarization?

Lin: The public opinion in Taiwan on his trip, I think, is polarized. It may become even more polarized after his trip, to the secret pleasure of Beijing.

One opinion is this: that Lien made a breakthrough. I grant that the atmosphere has been less tense. That's his contribution, and we have to give him credit.

The other side argues that Lien did not say anything about our grand achievements: democracy and freedom. He did not mention the Republic of China (ROC) out loud. And the third thing is that he seems to be criticizing his own people outside of his home. I'm afraid that leaves a bad smell. It's going to be an endless point of argument [since he came back]. However, I have to give him credit for an excellent personal performance. In comparison to his past performance, he really did a fabulous job. He memorized poems, he gave an arousing speech and he showed humor.

The downside is of course the further division of our society, making it even more difficult for people to reach a consensus. I'm afraid that is so, at least in the short run.

Lin Chong-pin

* Career: senior advisor to the National Security Council; Mainland Affairs Council vice chairman; deputy minister of national defense; professor at Georgetown University, Washington; resident scholar on Asia at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington; professor of Tamkang University Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.

* Education: PhD in political science from Georgetown University, master's degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles, master's degree in geology form Bowling Green State University, bachelor's degree in geology from National Taiwan University.

* Publications: Lin has published many papers and essays in the `New York Times,' `Wall Street Journal,' `Taipei Times,' `China Quarterly' and others. His latest book is `Win With Wisdom -- When Wrestling with a Giant'.

* Hobbies: Photography, hiking.

TT: What strategy did Beijing use to handle Lien's visit?

Lin: Beijing gave Lien last minute gifts, a relaxation of travel restrictions, a promise to reduce tariffs and restrictions on the export of Taiwanese fruit, and a pair of pandas. The KMT announced that Lien acquired concrete results from his trip.

China waited until the last minute to make concessions. This is Beijing's manipulation of Lien's trip. I am not sure, but I suspect Beijing knew Lien did not want to go home emptyhanded, so they made no concessions in order to put pressure on Lien's eight-day trip and to restrict his rhetoric. I am not sure, but I suspect that is why Lien did not mention democracy, freedom or the ROC, and criticized his own people at Peiking University. Beijing waited until the last minute before making any concessions. This is Beijing's tradition in conducting negotiations; the Chinese Communist Party's traditional style.

TT: Is it possible that Beijing will meet with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)?

Lin: Oh, I think Beijing is dying to talk to Chen [laughs]. Beijing's ultimate target is definitely Chen. If Hu talked to Chen, he would achieve at least three achievements. Domestically, Hu would score by obtaining something that could not be done under former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民). Secondly, Hu would show the international society that the tension in the Taiwan Strait had been eased and that the "one China" concept had been enhanced internationally. Thirdly, the momentum of Taiwan's independence movement would be reduced in Taiwan. So for Beijing to score, it must talk to Chen. If Beijing fails to talk to Chen, it must wait until 2008 or even later. But again, Beijing is very insistent on its preconditions about the "one China" principle, but with regard to tactics Beijing is very flexible. Still, basic principles and basic strategy -- the "one China" principle -- have remained the same.

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