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    Jiang's interview with NY Times

Excerpts of an interview with Jiang Zemin, the president and Communist Party leader of China, conducted by The New York Times

August 9, 2001

[...]

Q: You've described Taiwan as the most important issue in Chinese-American relations. Some in Washington call for a stronger military relationship with Taiwan, selling more advanced weapons, and to include Taiwan in a theater missile defense. If the United States and Taiwan go this route, how will China respond?

A: We are opposed to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. After signing of the Aug. 17 Joint Communique, [1982] the U.S. side pledged to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan both in quantitative and qualitative terms. But in fact what has happened has been the contrary. Secondly, on the one hand the U.S. side has said Taiwan should not go independent, on the other hand the U.S. provides support to make Taiwan stronger in order to oppose the mainland. This is utterly wrong. Such practice will not serve the interests of the people of Taiwan and is not conducive to peace in Asia and it will also harm the U.S.'s own interests.

Actually now, a growing number of people in Taiwan wish to have an early reunification with the motherland.

Q: But if the United States goes ahead with more advanced weapons sales, will it be possible for the US and China to maintain friendly relations?

A: I can only say that it would be very dangerous. Let me add one more point. I hope the Western world can understand China better. This is not simply an issue that has a bearing on myself. It actually has a bearing on the pride and feelings of the 1.2 billion Chinese people and the tens of millions of Chinese descendants overseas. They all hope that Taiwan and the mainland can be reunified at an early date. So if this situation does not make a turn for the better, does not head toward such a conclusion, then it will be hard to cope with the emotions and desires of so many people.

Q: Many Taiwan companies are investing in China. Do you think that economic integration is the main trend for the future, and at any point will it make the idea of armed conflict just too expensive for both sides?

A: Our intention is peaceful unification and one country, two systems. This has been our consistent position from the beginning. As you rightly point out, many Taiwan businesspeople make investments on the mainland. The reason is simple because of the favorable investment climate. And Taiwan business people also find themselves in an advantageous position to make investments here because they are all Chinese, they speak the same language, share the same customs, traditions. If with the increase of economic interaction people on both sides have a strong desire for reunification, they why would it be necessary to resort to armed conflict?

I am definitely not a belligerent person, but I would also like to note another aspect of our policy. That is, should the pro-independence Taiwanese or the overseas separatist forces intervene in the question of Taiwan and try to separate Taiwan away from the rest of China, China can never renounce the use of force.

[...]

Jiang Zemin's Responses to Questions Submitted Prior to Interview

Q: Does China have a timetable or deadline for reunification with Taiwan?

A: Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. The Taiwan question bears on the national pride of the entire Chinese people, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and development of China. All the Chinese people are looking forward to an early settlement of the question. This is the very aspiration of the people. Any attempt to split Taiwan from China will never get anywhere. China is bound to achieve complete reunification.

Q: Some Western experts believe that the 2008 Olympics offer an opportunity to build bridges to Taiwan. Are you prepared to offer Taiwan a role in hosting the Olympics?

A: During the bidding process, people in Taiwan demonstrated great enthusiasm and expressed their support for Beijing in various ways, which I appreciate. Some people and friends from the Taiwan sports community indicated their wish to see some of the games held in Taiwan if Beijing got it. If the Taiwanese side still wishes to do so, it may first apply to the I.O.C. in accordance with the Olympic Charter and after getting the approval, the Olympic committees of both sides may discuss the matter in detail within the framework of the one China principle.

Q: If Taiwan's leaders made a commitment not to declare independence and agreed to limits on future arms purchases, would you consider reducing Chinese missile forces along the coast? How concerned are you about the Bush administration's planned arms sales to Taiwan?

A: People living on both sides of the Taiwan Straits are Chinese. Blood is thicker than water. No one else is more eager than us for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question. it is precisely for the purpose of safeguarding the interests of our Taiwan compatriots to the fullest extent that we have proposed and stuck to the basic principle of ``peaceful reunification and one country, two systems.'' However, we cannot renounce the use of force. If we did, a peaceful reunification would become impossible. We have made military deployments on our own territory solely for our national security and territorial integrity and for peace and tranquillity.

There are three joint communiques between China and the U.S., i.e. the 1972 Shanghai Joint Communique, the 1979 Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the Joint Communique issued on August 17, 1982. They together constitute the political foundation of the China-U.S. relationship. In the three joint communiques, the U.S. clearly commits itself to the one-China policy. In the August 17th Communique, it states that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.

The reality, however, is that over all these years, the U.S. has never stopped selling sophisticated arms to China's Taiwan. Furthermore, it has upgraded its arms sales to Taiwan in both quantitative and qualitative terms. This has deeply hurt the Chinese people, interfered in China's internal affairs and made a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question more difficult. Such practice of the U.S. will not only affect the stability in the Taiwan Straits and hinder the improvement of China-U.S. relations, but also harm its own interest in the end.

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