Wed, Aug 09, 2006 - Page 3 News List

`Strangulation' to continue: envoy

DIPLOMATIC TACTICS Both sides will need to revise their foreign policy `mindsets' if the competition for allies is to end, David Lee told a press gathering in Washington

By Charles Snyder and Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTERS IN WASHINGTON AND TAIPEI

Representative to the US David Lee (李大維) warned that Beijing would continue its efforts to "strangulate Taiwan" internationally -- as it did in wresting Chad away from Taiwan -- unless both sides change their foreign policy "mindsets."

However, in his monthly "tea party" press conference with the Taiwanese press corps in Washington, Lee did not say how such a change could occur.

He did say that from Taiwan's point of view, any policy changes should come about through a "consensus-building process between the government and the people."

Lee told the Taipei Times after the press conference that he had not heard from the US government about Chad's decision to recognize Beijing at Taipei's expense, and that he had not contacted US officials about the development.

However, in the past, the US has advised him to beware of China's intent to isolate Taiwan.

"Over the past three years, the US has told me and several of my senior colleagues that we have to be aware of the trends and the policies of the PRC [People's Republic of China] on strangulating Taiwan's international space," Lee said.

"And the US has suggested that we do some thinking about how to cope with this. I think this is a decision that is up to the Taiwan people to decide. It is not something the US can decide for us," he said.

Questioned about Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang's (黃志芳) handling of the Chad switch, Lee came to Huang's defense, and said he did not want to try to "second-guess" the ministry's actions.

Based on his long diplomatic experience and his stint as deputy foreign minister, in which he handled similar cases, Lee said, "I can hardly imagine that if we put anyone else aside from Minister Huang [in the position], we would have different results."

China will continue to do whatever it can to take advantage of Taiwan, Lee said.

"This cutthroat competition will go on as long as the leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait do not change their mindset," Lee said.

"I do not see the possibility that the Beijing leadership will change their mindset on this issue. And with regard to Taipei, since we are a democratic country, if we do decide to change the policies or the mindset, we need a consensus-building process between the government and the people," he said.

Meanwhile, analysts in Taipei said yesterday that China's merciless campaign to reduce Taiwan's diplomatic allies and its gradual increase of missiles targeted at Taiwan were solid proof it was undermining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

In a forum held by Taiwan Thinktank on the country's external relations in the wake of Chad's decision to shift diplomatic recognition to China, Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a political science professor from Soochow University, said that it was an incremental change in the cross-strait status quo by China.

"What China is doing is to essentialize the `one China' principle -- that is to make Taiwan a non-sovereign country and a part of China," Lo said.

Chad's decision to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing just before Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) was to leave on a trip to the country showed China's intention to deal a blow to the so-called "Su revisionism," or a more moderate policy aimed at bettering economic ties with China, Lo said.

The timing of the Chad mishap, which came immediately after the Cabinet's economic conference aimed at normalizing cross-strait economic relations, meant that Beijing does not expect Su would be able to improve ties, and doesn't want to give any credit to the Democratic Progressive Party government before the next presidential election in 2008, Lo said.

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