Oct 16, 2007

Taiwan: Beijing Needs to Learn to Compromise

The latest round of talks have seemingly died before they started with China unwilling to depart from the ‘One China’ policy status and unlikely to remove offensive missiles, effectively closing the door on any progress.

The latest round of talks have seemingly died before they started with China unwilling to depart from the ‘One China’ policy status and unlikely to remove missiles pointing at the island, effectively closing the door on any potential progress.

Below is an article published by The International Herald Tribune:

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday [16 October 2007] that China's leaders must dismantle hundreds of missiles and recognize the self-ruled island's separate identity before the rivals can negotiate an end to nearly six decades of hostility.

Beijing's insistence that the two sides talk under the precondition that Taiwan recognizes it is a part of China is "out of the question," Chen told reporters. "Negotiating a cross-Strait peace accord under the 'one-China principle' is not peace but an accord of surrender," he said.

Chen's comments came one day after Chinese President Hu Jintao called for a formal peace accord to be discussed under Beijing's "one-China principle," meaning that Taiwan must recognize that it is part of China.

Before beginning negotiations, Chen said, China must dismantle its military deployment targeted at Taiwan and abolish the 2005 "anti-secession law" that authorizes an attack should Taiwan formalize its independence.

Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. The "one-China principle" has formed the basis of Beijing's policy toward the self-ruled island ever since.

China has never veered from its insistence that Taiwan is part of its territory and has threatened to attack if the island makes its de facto independence permanent.

Chen maintains that China has more than 900 missiles aimed at military and civilian targets on the island.

A Taiwanese political analyst said Hu's offer to open negotiations — devoid of threats and intimidation — reflected a new confidence among Chinese leaders to prevent Taiwan from formalizing its independence, particularly in light of American warnings against taking such a step.

"Beijing has realized that Taiwan may step on the red line but would not cross it," said Yang Kai-huang, a political scientist at National Dong Hwa University. "(The Chinese leadership) will use patience to gain a peaceful environment for China's own development."

The United States has publicly warned President Chen that moves encouraging independence sentiment — including a current drive to secure United Nations membership for the island — threaten peace in the volatile region.

Though Taiwan's government once vowed to reunite with the mainland, over the past several years it has emphasized its separate identity, drawing threats from Beijing.

Hu warned in his Monday [15 October 2007] speech that Taiwan's independence forces were "stepping up their secessionist activities," jeopardizing chances for peace between the two sides. He said people in China and Taiwan should work to "oppose and constrain such activities" and offered to work with any political parties in Taiwan as long as they agreed that Taiwan was part of China.

Beijing is particularly worried that with Taiwan's next presidential election due in March [2008] and the Beijing Olympics in August [2007], Taiwanese leaders might be tempted to test the limits of China's tolerance. Last month [September 2007], Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party passed a resolution calling for a referendum on Taiwan's sovereignty.