Wednesday, October 12, 2005

China Eclipses Taiwan

In SPEAKING FREELY Taiwan: When no news is good news Huang Chin-hao argues that Chen has become more circumspect as China's growing power makes Taiwan superfluous:

Chen's brisk transit was thus almost a non-event. Compared to his unprecedented treatment in New York in late 2003, there were no highly public appearances or media opportunities. But keeping a low profile seems to imply that Chen has got the message to avoid "rocking the boat", following the stern signal from President George W Bush in December 2003 when he publicly rebuked Chen for making unilateral moves to upset the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

In light of Hurricane Katrina, Chen did not take Hu's resulting cancelled state visit as a political victory. Chen avoided the usual tough talk on China, demonstrating his understanding that both the US and China are working closely on North Korea, UN reform, the ongoing "war on terrorism" and energy issues. Instead, he engaged in constructive dialogue on arms sales, and offered assistance and shared with local officials Taiwan's experiences in handling natural disasters. On the prospects for peace across the Taiwan Strait, Chen echoed the Bush administration's views that Beijing should engage in constructive dialogue with Taiwan's duly elected officials.

Huang also makes a good call on understanding the desperate need for Constitutional reform in Taiwan:

One of the main hurdles Chen faces during the rest of his second term is his determination to further Taiwan's constitutional reengineering project. Amendments calling for a more streamlined and efficient government structure will contribute to more stability in Taiwan.

Too many commentators dismiss constitutional reform as a stunt or provocation by Chen.

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