broke new ground in Beijing
TIMES - July 22, 2004
latest talks between high-level US and Chinese officials have come
and gone with all the players reiterating their standard lines. This
time, US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice met with Chinese
President Hu Jintao , former president Jiang Zemin , and Foreign
Minister Li Zhaoxing . While Rice expected discussions to focus on
Beijing's role in stopping North Korea's nuclear weapons program,
her Chinese counterparts made it clear that Taiwan was, is and will
continue to be their primary concern when it comes to US-China
presented Rice with a "three stops" request -- evidence
that China perceives a warmer US-Taiwan relationship and is eager to
quash it. China demanded that the US stop selling advanced arms to
Taiwan, stop all official engagements with Taiwan and stop offering
Taiwan its support in gaining membership to international
organizations that require statehood as a condition for membership.
demands come in the wake of the increased quality and quantity of
arms the US is willing to sell to Taiwan -- in the form of diesel
submarines, antisubmarine planes and Patriot antimissile systems;
increased military exchanges between the US and Taiwan; a fuller,
more respectful reception for President Chen Shui-bian during his
visits to the US; and US support for Taiwan's participation in the
World Health Organization.
Rice rebuffed these demands and reiterated the US' commitment to the
"one China" policy was to be expected. That Rice went
further, urging Jiang to open lines of communication with Chen, was
also to be expected.
that Rice went even further, describing as unhelpful China's
condition for talks -- that Taiwan accept the "one China"
policy -- was a refreshing deviation from scripted policy lines. Her
comments echo statements made by Assistant Secretary of State James
Kelly, who said that the governments on both sides need to
"pursue dialogue as soon as possible through any available
channels without preconditions."
Richard Bush, former chairman and managing director of the American
Institute in Taiwan, said, "It does not seem constructive for
one side to set preconditions for a resumption of dialogue that the
other side even suspects would be tantamount to conceding a
fundamental issue before discussion begins. For side A, in effect,
to ask side B to concede a major point would only raise side B's
doubts about side A's good intentions.
it does not seem helpful [or logical] for one side to say that
anything can be discussed once certain conditions are met but rule
out in advance discussion of approaches other than its preferred
all, despite the plethora of unresolved economic and social issues
that divide the two sides, all discussion pares down to one issue:
the relationship between Taipei and Beijing. But if Chen is forced
to accept China's rigid and unrealistic "one China"
principle before beginning discussions, what is left to discuss?
China, the "one China" principle means that there is,
unequivocally, one China to which Taiwan belongs. For Taiwan, the
"one China" principle is an obstinate relic of a bygone
era of a unified Chinese empire, a noose that threatens to suffocate
the democracy that has emerged in the past 50 years.
the US, the "one China" policy is not so much a policy as
an ambiguous mantra combining presidential statements, the Three
Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. Today Taiwan enjoys de
facto independence. It meets all the requirements of a state, as the
international community determined at the 1933 Montevideo Convention
on the Rights and Duties of States.
conditions for statehood are that a state has a permanent
population, a defined territory, a form of government and a capacity
to enter into relations with other states. Taiwan clearly passes all
tests. It has a defined population of 23 million, a clearly
demarcated territory, a democratically elected government and can
interact with other states as evinced by the diplomatic relations it
shares with more than two dozen states.
an open dialogue between China and Taiwan without conditions gives
both governments the freedom to discuss solutions for the future.
The "one China" principle is a relic of the Cold War and
as such it cannot be anachronistically applied as the foundation of
discussions about the future of the Taiwan Strait. Unlike so many of
these high-level meetings, Taiwan's future is not scripted, nor is
negotiations must proceed with the condition of a "one
China" principle and its assumed outcome, then is there really
anything to negotiate? The future of Taiwan and its fate cannot be
decided by a decades-old policy formed without the consent of
Taiwan's people, it cannot be decided by China, nor can it be
decided by the US -- the fate of Taiwan can and will only be decided
by the people of Taiwan.
Ming-chi is president of the Formosan Association for Public