Friday, October 29, 2004
China and Taiwan exchanges blunter as US steps in
US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has qualified statements he made in Beijing on Wednesday by insisting that the international community's goal "really is to have a peaceful resolution of the problem" between Taiwan and China, which split amid civil war in 1949.
Officials of the Peoples Republic of China earlier had strongly praised Powell's warnings to the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) that it is not an independent nation and should not seek to become one.
"There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation," he said.
The comments were described as going “beyond the ambiguous language American officials had used for several decades in managing relations between China and Taiwan”.
The United States recognises the Peoples Republic of China’s claim that there is only "one China," including Taiwan, just as it had previously recognised the Republic of China’s “one China” claim even after it had withdrawn from the mainland.
While State Department officials insisted that the secretary's comments did not reflect a change in United States policy, both China and Taiwan, sensitive to every accent and inflection in the American approach, reacted strongly.
Recently, regional friends of Taiwan, Australia and Singapore, distanced themselves from the ROC's drift towards declaration of Taiwan's formal separation from China ... a move that the PRC government warns would be a precursor to renewed war between the two administrations.
Unabashed, Chen Shui-bian, ROC's president, replied through local media: "Taiwan is absolutely a sovereign and independent country. It does not belong to the People's Republic of China."
However his presidential spokesman, James Huang, described Powell's subsequent statement as "a positive development and helpful to clarify the whole incident."