ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards

TIME Asia Asiaweek Asia Now TIME Asia story


China once again throws the ball back in Taiwan's court
Commentary by DON SHAPIRO

Taiwan Stands Up: Toward the Dawn of a Rising Era
The full text of ROC President Chen Shui-bian's inauguration speech on May 20, 2000

Letter from Beijing: Ancient Treasures
Newly found tomb may be that of a Han king

Tsui Hark: 'You Have To Touch People With Film'
The Hong Kong film director on sex, violence and leading ladies

Musa Hitam: 'I Don't Kowtow'
Malaysia's new human rights chief speaks out

Ordinary Heroes
The Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony offers the spectacle of some working-class stars having a good time

'Tiananmen Just Woke Me Up'
Extended Interview: The widow of celebrated writer Edgar Snow returned last week to a very different China

Jet Li: The World Is My Oyster
Web-only Exclusive: Hong Kong action hero Jet Li is set for stardom in his first big Hollywood role in Romeo Must Die

Web-Only Exclusive: Courage Under Fire
Sharif, wife are stoic as court hands him life sentence

Hail Emperor
Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra on why religion is bad, technology is good and the future is beautiful

Interview: Prison Bound
Frank Darabont goes back to jail to direct Oscar-nominated The Green Mile
Review: Go The Mile
At three hours long, The Green Mile goes the distance

Karen Mok: 'My Best is Yet to Come'
The Hong Kong actress and singer is set to star in a new road movie--she describes it as a Chinese version of the cult film Trainspotting
Johanna Ho: Fashion Conscience
Her designs have appeared in Vogue and Elle, and she spoke to TIME after taking in London's Fashion Week

Showbiz Asia: the latest on Asian music, films and books
Chen Shui-bian's victory in Taiwan's March 18 presidential elections--bringing to power the Democratic Progressive Party that has long advocated the island's permanent separation from China--raised concerns that Beijing would react by increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait or even resort to force. Beijing stated repeatedly that it would take Chen's inaugural address as a litmus test of his intentions. Accept the principle of one China, it warned, or be prepared to shoulder the consequences.

The speech, delivered Saturday in the square in front of Taipei's Presidential Office Building following Chen's swearing-in, appeared to fulfill the new leader's aims: satisfying China with expressions of goodwill while adhering to Taiwan's stance that it would enter into negotiations with the PRC only as an equal partner.

The initial response from Beijing, aside from some questioning of Chen's sincerity, was relatively positive. Chinese spokesmen moderated previous preconditions for the resumption of talks between the two sides, cut off by the PRC since 1995.

Though only a brief section toward the end of the 37-minute address was devoted to Taiwan-mainland relations, Chen touched on several key points designed to assure Beijing that he is not a radical proponent of Taiwan independence:

- Emphasis on the common "ancestral, cultural and historical background" shared by Taiwan and China;
- Reiteration of his pledge during the election campaign not to declare independence or hold a referendum on the issue as long as Beijing refrains from the use of force;
- Acceptance, at least conceptually, of the notion of one China. Said Chen: "We believe that the leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a future one China.

At the same time, Chen underscored the sovereign nature of the Republic of China on Taiwan and the need to build relations with China based on the "principles of democracy and parity" and "respecting the free choice of the people."

Elsewhere in the speech, Chen covered such topics as human rights (promising to push for passage of the International Bill of Rights as a domestic statute), the importance of an impartial and independent judiciary, commitment to environmental protection, and his intention to confine the government's role in the economy to that of a "service-provider" rather than "manager."

The most enthusiastic applause from the audience greeted his promise to create a "clean political environment," eradicating corruption and the involvement of organized crime in politics.

Chen mentioned three other people by name in his speech. He referred respectfully to "Mr. Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Jiang Zemin" as creators of a "miracle of economic openness" in China, and said that his predecessor, Lee Teng-hui, "deserves our highest praise and heartfelt honor for his promotion of democratic reforms" during his 12 years as president.

While viewers around the world watched the historic inauguration speech live on CNN, it was just another day across the straits in mainland China. Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television only briefly showed Chen saying that he would not proclaim independence and that the future one China is an issue that both sides could discuss.

Chinese who had hoped to catch the event using their satellite dishes had been warned against doing so. Hours before Chen's speech, Beijing residents were reminded by radio that satellite dishes were banned in the capital. Chinese papers on Sunday also did not report the speech, so most Chinese had no idea what Chen had said. (Interestingly, Internet sites did report it.)

The only thing that was reported in the Chinese press was the statement issued on Saturday by the Communist Party's Taiwan Work Office and the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, China's cabinet. The joint statement, reported by Xinhua hours after Chen's speech, bluntly condemned the "goodwill reconciliation" offered as having a "lack of sincerity".

In his 4,500-word speech, Chen stressed that while he recognizes the policy of one China and would not declare independence, it was something that would be discussed in the future. The Chinese government statement condemned him for attaching the 'future' condition. He should not have "refuted the reality that there is but 'one China' and that Taiwan is a part of China by saying one China is something of the 'future'", it said.

Yet, the relatively moderate statement, which had clearly been prepared beforehand, notably never mentioned Chen by name. It was a clear indication, say observers, that Chinese authorities are willing to talk to him. Historically, China names the people it considers to be its enemies. For example, Taiwan's new outspoken Vice President Annette Lu has been attacked by name frequently in the Chinese press. "Not mentioning him by name means that the Chinese government can talk to Chen Shui-bian," notes one Western analyst in Beijing. "Chen opened the doors for dialogue and the Chinese government clearly wants to keep them open," she adds.

The statement also harked back to the 1992 meeting in Singapore between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), when China and Taiwan agreed that Taiwan was not a part of the territory of the People's Republic but of Chinese territory. "This is the basis that they want to go back to so that they can have dialogue," notes the analyst. "China hasn't lost hope. They made it clear they can talk," she adds.

Yet, while China is willing to talk, the statement concluded with an obvious warning that the Taiwan question could not be dragged on "indefinitely." Beijing has already hinted that if the stalemate continues, China could be forced to act.

China has once again thrown the ball back in Taiwan's court. In the world of China-Taiwan relations, not much has changed.

Features Home | TIME Asia home


Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME, Asiaweek and CNN


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.