TITLE

Chinese Wall

AUTHOR(S)
Kurlantzick, Joshua
PUB. DATE
March 2004
SOURCE
New Republic;3/15/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 9, p14
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
The author argues that U.S. president George W. Bush should clarify America's position on the issue of Taiwanese independence. In early December, standing next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Bush announced that the United States did not support a referendum proposed by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian. The referendum, timed to coincide with Taiwan's March 20 presidential election, would ask voters whether China should renounce using force to prevent Taiwan from gaining independence--a question China saw as a precursor to asking the Taiwanese if they wanted official independence. Previous American presidents had recognized Beijing as China's legitimate government but almost never openly opposed Taiwan's independence. Instead, U.S. policy had been to support the status quo--one China, with Taiwan de facto independent from the mainland--until both sides agreed to a future plan. Many Republican backers of Taiwan revolted. Despite such conservative frothing, Bush was making the best of a tough situation. For months, the White House had secretly pushed Chen to alter his referendum but had been rebuffed. Meanwhile, China's warnings had grown more heated. In recent years, Taiwan and China's relationship has changed dramatically. Since the early '90s, a separate Taiwanese identity has blossomed. The mainland, meanwhile, is simultaneously becoming more confident on the global stage and more frustrated with Taiwan. Unsure of China's and Taiwan's actual positions, and with no unified front in his administration, Bush has lately become more closely involved to quell the infighting. The United States needs to convene a formal review of its Taiwan policy at some point after the March election.
ACCESSION #
12446783

 

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