Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait power imbalance decried

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Interflow Prospect Foundation chairman Lin Bih-jaw speaks at a conference on the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis yesterday.


The most significant change to cross-strait relations in the 10 years since the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis has been the rise of China's economic and military might, academics and officials said yesterday.

China launched a series of missiles into the waters off Taiwan from late 1995 to early 1996 in reaction to the US issuing a visa to enable former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to visit Cornell University, his alma mater, where Lee delivered a speech claiming that the "Republic of China is in Taiwan."

At a conference held by the cross-strait Interflow Prospect Foundation to mark the 10th anniversary of the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis yesterday, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman You Ying-lung (游盈隆) said that although cross-strait economic exchanges have expanded a great deal in the past 10 years, China has renewed its efforts to oppose Taiwan's international participation at all levels.

"The cross-strait military balance is becoming increasingly unbalanced and is tilting towards China, directly impacting the prospects for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the strategic balance in the region," You said.

You said that a political compromise between China and Taiwan would be difficult to come by in the foreseeable future, regardless of which political party governed Taiwan.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) takes a firm position on maintaining Taiwan's sovereignty and independence, You said, adding that even though the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is more amenable to the "one China" principle, albeit interpreting the "one China" as the "Republic of China," it would not necessarily make concessions to China.

Lin Wen-cheng (林文程), a former National Security Council adviser, said that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack was a turning point in which China reaped handsome political capital to become the US' partner in the global war on terror, with the result that it gained the upper hand in US-China-Taiwan relations.

"The US and Taiwan began to have differences on their understanding of a so-called cross-strait `red line.' Taiwan thought it knew where the line was, but the US kept taking a strict stance and pushing Taiwan back," Lin said. He added that, "Increasingly, the US fears that Taiwan will break a tacit agreement and overstep the red line."

Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), a professor on China's political economy at the National Chengchi University, said that despite strained political relations across the Taiwan Strait, the situation wouldn't deteriorate as China faces domestic pressure for economic development.

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