Thursday, February 09, 2006

China: Chen is a Troublemaker

The Beeb reports on China's claim that President Chen Shui-bian is a troublemaker:

China has branded Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian a "troublemaker and saboteur" for a speech hinting at formalising Taiwan's independence.

Mr Chen suggested last month that it might be time to consider scrapping Taiwan's guidelines on unification.

In China's first official response, a spokesman said such a move would break a promise made by Mr Chen in 2000.

China sees Taiwan as its territory, threatening to use force if the island moves towards formal independence.

Mr Chen suggested late last month that the time had come to seriously consider scrapping the National Unification Council and its National Unification Guidelines, in a speech which created diplomatic and political shockwaves.

The Council was set up in 1990 as an attempt to convince the Chinese authorities that Taiwan was committed to reunification, and it helped kick-start landmark talks between the two sides in the early 1990s.
Yes, Chen is a troublemaker. So are the millions who participated in the thousands of protests against the government in China last year. So are bloggers like Michael Anti. So is Lu Banglie. So are the villagers of Taishi. So is everyone who wants peace and freedom in the world.

The Beeb did not report that Chen's promises were conditional upon China's rejection of force in its attempt to annex Taiwan. As I noted in a long post on this announcement earlier this week, Maddog makes a very solid point about Chen's "breaking promises":

Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, the abolition of the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines will not be an issue.

The political wisdom of Chen's announcement aside, coming as it does in the midst of the US attempt to woo China for its upcoming Iran war (World Nut Daily offers some right-wing disgust with Bush's sellout of the island), President Chen is not backtracking on a promise here, since his original declaration had clear conditions that China has failed to comply with: it had to renounce its intention to kill and maim Taiwanese in order to seize the last remaining prize from the Great Game of the 19th century.

9 comments:

STOP_George said...

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Isn't it incredible that Chen is considered the "troublemaker", both in China (and now, it seems, in the U.S.) for wanting (de jure) what his country already has (de facto).

I've also noticed that Chen seems to be more "in your face" about things now. I think that approach is far overdue. NOW is the time for change. NOW! In a few years, as can be seen with Washington's shifting policy towards this country, Taiwan will lose any political leverage it still has.

Maybe Chen should frame the debate better. Use the rhetoric of Bushco.

The "one-china" policy is a policy that compromises "freedom". It is a policy that pretends to nurture stability -- but stability at what cost? Will the PRC remove the 700+ missles pointed at Taiwan if an island of 23 million people (who do not want to "reunify") formalize a policy that forbids official de jure independence. What assurances do the people of Taiwan have that "freedom" will not be sacrificed if Taiwan concedes to China that it is merely a province of a communist state?

How can the United States of America, who prides itself on spreading freedom and democracy as the ultimate goal for international betterment, condone this one-China policy. A policy that, at best, would limit the freedoms that the 23 million citizens currently enjoy and, at worst, would extinguish one of the most democratic beacons of hope in East Asia.

This is the type of rhetoric that Chen should be employing at an international level. Chen is a "friend" to increased "freedom" to his people. How can one, therefore, label him a troublemaker through the eyes of any American poliitcian?
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MJ Klein said...

George, you're a trouble maker too. ;)

David said...

I think the "China intends to use force" so he's OK line is extremely dodgy: you can't just arbitrarily decide (without telling anyone) that your precondition is not valid. In particular, he got elected in 2004 on the back of "700 missiles pointed at us", and yet renewed his promise at the inauguration - had he already decided that the promise was void then? If so, why say it?

If you want to make the "it's void" argument, then he should have said so explicitly - e.g. after the anti-secession law was passed.

Incidentally - if you look at the "4 Noes, 1 without" promise, which of those actions has he (as president) actually got the power to do? Answer: Only disband the NUC. All the others require the KMTs cooperation, so are fairly empty (but reassuring) promises anyway.

STOP_George said...

David:

I understand the gist of what you're saying. However, cannot the "absence" of meaningful goodwill and compromise from China also escalate the situation? They are, after all, the ones who are threatening Taiwan (not the other way around).

Cannot the deliberate and arguably malignant "manipulation" by China in the affairs on Taiwan also not be considered "escalating the tensions in the straight"?

Think WHO.

Think Pandas.

Think acceptance of pro-unification opposition leaders but denial of a visit to or from the president himself.

What is the motivation of any these actions except to make Chen look weak and to basically spit on any pretense of "goodwill" towards an elected government which has an agenda it disagrees with.

I guess what I am saying is that, with this cross-straights relationship, Chen could argue that a "pro-active" participation in the spirit of good-will should be a pre-requisite to continue this 4-no policy. So far, China is doing everything it can to coerce Taiwan and the world into accepting unification. China is not showing "good-will" towards maintaining a status-quo. This, in turn, threatens Taiwan as a free and democratic society. Chen could argue that he can not wait any longer.

This may sound abstract, but consider how much effort has been made by China to take Chen out of the equation. When do the malevolent actions of China towards undermining a pro-democracy elected government constitute enough of a reason to consider them a threat to invalidate the 4-no's.

I hope I made this case clear enough.
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David said...

stop_george: I've got no argument about the lack of goodwill from China, or their attempts to sideline the DPP government - but it's beside the point. Chen made a promise, and that promise was contingent on 'no intent to use force'. Pandas, WTO, and pan-Blue visits clearly aren't covered.

If Chen wants to argue that China *does* intend to use force, and so his promise is void, then he should do so explicitly. But I suspect he'd be crucified by the majority of the Taiwanese public and the US government if he does so. He might have got away with doing so as retaliation for the anti-secession law, but not now.

Look on it from another perspective: Does abolishing the NUC have any effect on Taiwanese sovereignty or China-Taiwan relations? No. The NUC has no legal power, and will do nothing during Chen's reign. However, does voiding his '5 Noes' affect Taiwan-US relations? Absolutely.

Given that China-Taiwan (political) relations will go nowhere while CSB's in power, I believe he should focus on Taiwan-US relations. His '5 noes' are a promise *to the US*, not to China. Noone cares about headlines of "China: Chen is a troublemaker", but when we start seeing "US: Chen is a troublemaker" then we have a real problem.

STOP_George said...

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Yes. You are right about the condition of "threat of military force". It is clear now that the condition of these 5 no's was not adequate, considering the reality of the situation now.

Chen has little, if any, wiggle room under this condition.

What if he just simply state that the condition on the 5 nos was too acute in scope? I know...I know...it IS breaking his promise BUT if he clearly explains the context of the situation Taiwan is in now -- and why it is imperative that NOW is the time Taiwan needs to establish it's international identity -- maybe, just maybe he can convince U.S. officials.

It is my belief that this is it. If Taiwan doesn't make the changes that Chen has proposed in the next few years -- it's game over for TI.

It's going to be difficult, but I truly hope that Chen can get away with it!

It's not going to matter how friendly U.S. relations are if and when Ma takes power.
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Michael Turton said...

David is right, I think. However you slice it, Chen has to give top priority to repairing the breach with the US, fair or not.

The problem is that I am beginning to wonder if the US really wants to prepare the breach, or if they are setting up Chen to take the fall for the "rupture in Taiwan-US relations". This scenario would ensure the arrival of Ma in power in 2008, who would then "repair" the relations. Is it even possible to repair Taiwan-US relations?

Michael

STOP_George said...

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With Ma in power, it won't really be "Taiwan / U.S. relations".

If the U.S. wants Ma in power, then there is no hope whatsoever.
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Michael Turton said...

Yes. You are right about the condition of "threat of military force". It is clear now that the condition of these 5 no's was not adequate, considering the reality of the situation now.

Chen could very well argue that the Anti-Succession Law formally encodes intent to use force, and thus voids any promises he has made.

Not that it matters. As David has correctly pointed out, the whole thing was FUBAR when Chen decided to open his mouth without first consulting with US officials....

Michael

Michael