Mar 20, 2007

Taiwan: Threat From China Grows

Taiwan sees a growing threat from China's diplomatic and military expansion, the island's newly named envoy to the United States said yesterday.

Below is an article published by Reuters;

Taiwan sees a growing threat from China's diplomatic and military expansion, the island's newly named envoy to the United States said yesterday [Monday, 19th March].

"This is a danger to Taiwan, and the trend we see is that this danger is getting bigger and bigger," Joseph Wu said in his first formal interview since being appointed on Sunday as the next de facto Taiwan ambassador to the United States.

"Also on the diplomacy front, China's foreign relations power is getting stronger and stronger, in the South Pacific, in Southeast Asia, in Central America, in Africa."

Currently chairman of the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council, Wu is seen as the architect of President Chen Shui-bian's hardline policy on China.

But Wu, who will be the first representative to the United States from the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, said he would not rule out meeting the Chinese ambassador in Washington.

"If in the future there is a chance to meet with Chinese officials and understand each other, I would not rule it out," he said. "If (the meetings) are good for Taiwan and China to understand each other better, I will try hard to do it."

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has threatened war if the self-ruled island declares formal independence.

Chen's government considers the Bush administration a key behind-the-scenes ally in its struggle to break away from China, even though the United States - like most countries -has pledged formal ties to Beijing instead of Taipei.

Although it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognising "one China", Washington is obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help the island defend itself.

Wu said China has built a strong name internationally thanks to its growing economy, but American "friends" would recognise Taiwan because China lacks political and religious freedoms.

"Taiwan has its advantages." he said. "Taiwan is a democratic country, and China is not a democratic country. They haven't changed anything. It's even getting worse."

Wu, 53, will run 12 US-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office branches, possibly as early as next month.

He replaces David Lee, a member of the opposition Nationalist party, in a post considered the most important diplomatic position for Taiwan.

Wu said that in his remaining time at the Mainland Affairs Council, he would work on wrapping up a deal opening Taiwan further to Chinese tourists.

Negotiations on the landmark agreement have been pushed back because of holidays and government meetings in Beijing, Wu said.

"Presently, it's too early to pinpoint or confirm a time when Chinese tourists can come," Wu said, responding to reports that the travel agreement could take effect by May 1.

Taiwan has logged about 200,000 Chinese arrivals since limited travel was allowed in 2001, he said.