Wed, Mar 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Three-way relations likely to remain the same, analysts say

CNA WITH STAFF WRITER , TAIPEI

The delicate triangular Taiwan-US-China relationship will remain unchanged in the short term despite President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) decision to cease the operations of the National Unification Council (NUC), two analysts said yesterday.

Liao Ta-chi (廖達琪), director of National Sun Yat-sen University's Graduate Institute of Political Science, and Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an Academia Sinica researcher, made the comments after Chen declared a day earlier that the NUC will "cease to function" and the guidelines on unification will "cease to apply."

Liao and Hsu agreed that the wording of Chen's declaration, in which the term "cease" replaced the more controversial "abolish," was a compromise with the US.

One of the "four noes" Chen pledged to uphold during his 2000 inaugural speech was not abolishing the NUC and the guidelines. Using the word "cease" instead of "abolish" showed Chen's sensitivity to concerns by the US and others that he should not renege on his pledge, they said.

"The larger question now will be whether the United States will continue to trust Chen after all the shenanigans over the NUC issue," Liao said.

Liao said Chen's campaign against the council and the guidelines could lead the US to watch him more carefully.

She added that the most important factor of the NUC controversy was Washington's efforts to inform Chen of its aversion to any unilateral move by Taiwan to alter the cross-strait "status quo" which might increase the potential for regional instability.

"My observation is that the United States has made it clear to Chen through the NUC issue that at stake in any cross-strait turbulence is not only the 23 million Taiwanese people's rights and interests but also those of 300 million Americans," Liao said.

Throughout the controversy, Liao said, China relied on the US to apply pressure to Taipei.

"It seems to me that in handling the NUC spat, both the US and China have tried to separate Chen from ordinary Taiwanese people. I don't think China is likely to punish the Taiwanese people because of Chen's decision to `cease' the NUC's operations, and ... Taiwan-US-China relations are not expected to change for the time being," she said.

Liao said the US had let Chen clearly understand where the bottom line was.

Hsu said the Chinese reaction in the weeks to come was important.

"What we must observe now is whether Beijing will accept this Taiwan-US compromise. It's not likely that it will explicitly state its acceptance of it, but so long as Beijing doesn't take any drastic action, President Chen has scored a win," Hsu argued.

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