set deadline for annexation of Taiwan: 2007
release. March 2, 2000
Tightens the Noose Around Taiwan’s Neck?”
me or I’ll kill you,” was the implied threat to Taiwan in
China’s recently released White Paper. The South China
Morning Post’s Willy Wo-Lap Lam writes that there seems now
to be a specific timetable to the message - “Marry me by the
year 2007, or I’ll kill you.”
Jiang Zemin clearly has “recovering Taiwan” on his legacy
schedule. Since there will be a “pivotal 17th Party
Congress” in the year 2007 and Jiang will supposedly step
down, Lam says the deadline for Taiwan’s “reabsorption” has
thus been set at 2007.
Lam’s article is chilling both because of the timetable
given as well as the reported military strategy being prepared.
Lam reports that a “Kosovo model” is being considered – surgical
air strikes that will bring Taiwan to its knees so quickly
that there will be no time for the U.S. to respond.
"The offensive will be over before the US Government and Congress
will have time to react," Lam quotes an Asian diplomat as
saying. "Moreover, the CCP leadership is gambling that because
there is no physical occupation of Taiwan territory by the
mainland army, Washington may find it difficult to convince
the US public it should come to Taiwan's aid by opening hostilities
against the mainland."
unclear to me whether Lam is speaking for the Chinese leadership
or not,” stated Chen Wen-yen, FAPA President. “What
is clear is that China’s threats against Taiwan are quite
real. A strong U.S. response is needed and we think
passage of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act fills the bill.
It is in the United States’ interest to support the twenty-two
million people of democratic Taiwan and help them keep the
peace in East Asia.”
CHINA MORNING POST
on Wednesday, March 1, 2000 WILLY WO-LAP LAM
edge to 'liberation' timetable.” All wars are avoidable -
except those that do break out. This truism says much about
a particularly disturbing aspect of the Taiwan Strait crisis.
In theory, the chances of bombs and missiles flying across
the strait are still low. Yet the possibility of war being
unleashed especially by irrational factors is blood-curdlingly
real. Consider these alarming developments within the leadership
of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People's Liberation
a deadline for the reabsorption of Taiwan not only exists
but has been moved forward.
Beijing hurled a so-called paper missile at the administration
of Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui by announcing that perpetual
refusal to negotiate with the mainland constituted a criterion
for the use of force against the island. The corollary of
this threat, contained in a WhitePaper on Taiwan, is that
Beijing will soon announce a "liberation timetable".
Partly to calm the global furore this show of force
has ignited, various cadres including Taiwan scholar Li Jiaquan
have hinted the deadline will not come due until the year
2020. A Beijing source said the time-frame of 2020 first appeared
in party documents about two years ago. The deadline,
however, was moved forward at recent meetings on Taiwan called
by President Jiang Zemin.
said the majority of Mr Jiang's advisers now favoured 2007,
the year when the pivotal 17th Party Congress will be held.
This conclave will mark the retirement from the scene of the
so-called third generation of the leadership with Mr Jiang
at its core. "Jiang will supposedly bid farewell to all leadership
roles by 2007, when he turns 81," the source said.
has reiterated he wants the Taiwan issue settled when he is
still around." Second, a near-consensus has been reached
by Mr Jiang's aides and the generals on the mode of warfare
against Taiwan - as well as ways of dealing with the United
States and world opinion. Most civilian strategists and PLA
officers favour the so-called Kosovo model, a reference to
how Nato troops tried to emasculate the Yugoslav regime via
"surgical airstrikes". Thus, missiles will be used to destroy
military facilities on Taiwan. Civilian installations such
as oil depots, power plants, and highways will also be paralysed.
The action will be finished in 48 hours or less, after which,
Beijing is convinced, Taipei will be forced to not only begin
real reunification talks but acquiesce to the CCP's terms.
diplomat familiar with Beijing's Taiwan policy said this gameplan
was recommended for two reasons. While China's navy cannot
even enforce a blockade of Taiwan, its missiles are up to
world standards. Moreover, this strategy does not involve
the occupation of Taiwan by PLA soldiers. "The offensive will
be over before the US Government and Congress will have time
to react," the diplomat said. "Moreover, the CCP leadership
is gambling that because there is no physical occupation of
Taiwan territory by the mainland army, Washington may find
it difficult to convince the US public it should come to Taiwan's
aid by opening hostilities against the mainland."
a team of Jiang advisers consisting of economic officials
is working on ways to handle an anti-China embargo that will
likely be imposed by the US and other Western governments.
An informed source said Beijing did not expect the embargo
to be more severe than the one put in place after the
June 4, 1989, massacre. Given Beijing's improved economic
and diplomatic capacities, mainland authorities believe they
can weather the setback more easily than in the early 1990s.
Third, the CCP has assembled top experts on international
politics and law to dress up a rationale for using force.
Paper on Taiwan unveiled last week was the result of an elaborate
theoretical exercise that lasted more than a year. A mainland
scholar thus explained the need for a deadline: "There was
a timetable for the solution of the Hong Kong and Macau problems.
The same goes for Taiwan."
policymakers on Taiwan, who cannot mention President Lee without
much gnashing of teeth, have even asked top jurists to gather
evidence that can convict Mr Lee of high treason. "If mainland
agents can lay their hands on Lee after reunification, there
is little question the Taiwan leader will receive a death
sentence in Beijing courts," the scholar said. Finally, why
issue the quasi-ultimatum now? Much has been written about
the fact that Beijing wants to hit the presidential candidate
of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, Chen
Shui-bian. The theory is that every time the CCP leadership
rattles the sabre before Taiwan elections, DPP candidates
stand to lose.
the real targets of the White Paper may be Lien Chan, the
Kuomintang' presidential hopeful - and Mr Lee. It is no secret
that Beijing's Taiwan experts think Mr Lien will win on March
18. But they fear that irrespective of whether the vice-president
can emerge from the shadow of Mr Lee, Mr Lien will continue
to follow his mentor's procrastination tactics. The reality
of the Taiwan Strait is that, no matter who leads the island,
they will lack sufficient popular backing for starting reunification
talks with the CCP.
enthusiasm for reunion with the mainland wanes with every
day that goes by.
According to official statistics, while 44 per cent of Taiwan
themselves "Chinese" in 1992, the figure dropped to 12.7 per
cent last year. By contrast, the percentage of the populace
who considered themselves "Taiwanese" rose from 16.7 to 36.9
in the same period. Moreover, polls have shown that anti-mainland
feelings on the island invariably surge each time Beijing
bares its fangs. For the 73-year-old President Jiang,
who is desperate for an achievement that will make him an
equal of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping in the history books,
time is fast running out. Pessimists fear the tough warnings
issued by Washington in the past week may not be enough to
rein him in.
Wo-Lap Lam is a Post Associate Editor.