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Beijing firm on maintaining its grip on the Web

RED FACES: The head of the IOC press commission said he had been left out of the loop and felt like the fall guy after learning that Web access would be restricted

Friday, Aug 01, 2008, Page 1

Aboriginal performers from Taiwan leave Beijing's National Stadium after a rehearsal of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games opening ceremony yesterday.


China said yesterday it was ¡§determined¡¨ to maintain its controls on the Internet, amid criticism over its decision to censor the Web for foreign reporters covering the Olympics.

¡§We are determined to implement the regulations and to try to implement the regulations effectively,¡¨ foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao (¼B«Ø¶W) told reporters.

Reporters trying to surf the Internet at the main press center for the Games have found a wide array of sites deemed sensitive by China¡¦s rulers to be out-of-bounds.

Liu would not be drawn further on the issue yesterday.

¡§I¡¦ve already expanded on China¡¦s position. I will not add more on that,¡¨ he said when asked to identify all the Web sites censored for Olympics reporters and to provide a list.

Liu also described as ¡§unfair¡¨ claims by US Senator Sam Brownback this week that China was planning to spy on guests who stayed at foreign-owned hotels during the Games.

¡§In China, privacy is respected and guaranteed. In hotels and other public places, there is no special arrangement that is beyond internationally, generally used security measures,¡¨ he said.

Brownback on Tuesday gave out English translations of two documents he said were received by hotels, outlining the Chinese government¡¦s instructions on how to implement Internet spying software and hardware by yesterday.

Lu also criticized a US House of Representatives¡¦ resolution on Wednesday that criticizes Beijing¡¦s human rights record and calls on it to end its support for the regimes in Myanmar and Sudan.

¡§We urge the American side to stop the disgusting actions of this small group of anti-Chinese lawmakers,¡¨ Liu was quoted as saying on the ministry¡¦s Web site. ¡§This action itself is blasphemous to the spirit of the Olympics and is against the will of the people all over the world, including the American people.¡¨

Meanwhile, dissent erupted in the senior ranks of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with the head of its press commission suggesting that IOC president Jacques Rogge acquiesced to Chinese plans to censor Internet access during the Games.

Kevan Gosper, the press commission head, said he was startled to find out earlier this week that some Web sites would be blocked in the work rooms for reporters covering the games.

For months Gosper, Rogge and others have publicly said Beijing agreed to unblock the Web during the Games. The reversal, Gosper said, left him feeling like the ¡§fall guy.¡¨

¡§But I really do not know the detail. I only know the ground rules on censorship have changed, but have only been announced here. It must have related to a former understanding to which I was not a party,¡¨ he said.

¡§This certainly isn¡¦t what we guaranteed the international media and it¡¦s certainly contrary to normal circumstances of reporting on Olympic Games,¡¨ he said.

Rogge arrived in Beijing yesterday, but declined to speak as he left the airport.

In other news, Olympic organizers slammed a South Korean TV station yesterday for broadcasting of a dress rehearsal for the Games opening ceremony.

The network, one of three South Korean TV rights holders allowed to distribute Olympic footage, aired just over a minute of video of the closed-door rehearsal. It included scenes depicting the past and future of Chinese culture and the unrolling of a huge scroll.

¡§We went and nobody stopped us. So we just shot,¡¨ a reporter at the SBS sports desk said in Seoul.

A spokesman for the Beijing organizers said the matter was being investigated.


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Top US official denies arms 'freeze'

CONGRESS DISPLEASED: Despite reassurances from the White House, seven representatives introduced legislation requiring the administration to provide 'detailed briefings'

By Charles Snyder
Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Friday, Aug 01, 2008, Page 3

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng answers a question at a press conference in Washington yesterday. Wang said that the US had not frozen arms sales to Taiwan and that it would continue the sales.



A top-level White House official, denying that the Bush administration has imposed a ¡§freeze¡¨ on arms sales to Taiwan, on Wednesday reiterated the US¡¦ commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taiwan in its defense needs.

Dennis Wilder, the National Security Council¡¦s senior director for Asian affairs, told reporters: ¡§We continue to live up to that commitment. There are many engagements between the United States military and [the] Taiwan military. Nothing has been frozen in this relationship.¡¨

Wilder made the statements in response to a question during a briefing on US President George W. Bush¡¦s trip to Asia, at the end of which Bush will attend the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing next Friday.

Wilder¡¦s comments came two days after he reportedly met with visiting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (¤ýª÷¥­), a meeting that led Wang to say he was very ¡§optimistic¡¨ about the US position on arms sales, although he received no word as to when the sales would go through.

¡§There is no change in America¡¦s policy toward Taiwan,¡¨ Wilder said at the briefing. ¡§I think there has been a misunderstanding in the press that somehow we have put this relationship on hold. That is not true. We continue to have very robust relations with the Taiwan military. We continue to assist them with their self-defense needs and that is the policy of the United States Government.¡¨

On the arms sales packages, which have been on hold since last December, allegedly to avoid China¡¦s disfavor at a time when the administration needs Beijing¡¦s help in a number of foreign policy crises, Wilder said: ¡§There are many discussions that take place at various levels with the Taiwan military on their military needs. We are evaluating those needs and we will notify Congress of our decisions on various arms sales at the appropriate times.¡¨

Bush will leave for Asia on Tuesday and visit South Korea and Thailand before arriving in Beijing on Thursday for a four-day visit.

As part of the trip, Bush will hold a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (­JÀAÀÜ), but Wilder declined to say whether the arms sales would be an issue that would come up during the meeting.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to hold the Bush administration¡¦s feet to the fire when it comes to its deliberations on the current arms sales issue, seven members of the US House of Representatives, including some of Taiwan¡¦s most ardent friends on the Hill, introduced legislation on Wednesday to require the administration to provide Congress ¡§detailed briefings¡¨ on its deliberations.

The bill reflects the displeasure among representatives over the Bush administration¡¦s rumored freeze and its failure to keep Congress fully informed of its thinking on Taiwan arms sales, congressional staffers involved in the legislation said.

The bill would require the secretaries of state and defense to give the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ¡§detailed briefings¡¨ on a regular basis on the issue, starting three months after the bill is enacted into law and every four months thereafter.

The bill would include any discussions between Taiwan and the administration and ¡§any potential transfer¡¨ of weapons systems to Taiwan.

The bill¡¦s author, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican member of the House committee, has been a powerful supporter of Taiwan in the committee and has taken on a greater role since the death of former chairman Tom Lantos earlier this year.

The committee¡¦s chairman, Howard Berman, is considered much less favorable to Taiwan¡¦s interests than Lantos or Lantos¡¦ predecessor, Henry Hyde.

Other co-sponsors include Tom Tancredo, perhaps one of Taiwan¡¦s biggest champions in the House, and Shelley Berkley, a co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

The sponsors feel that by blocking the sales for political and foreign policy considerations, the administration has violated the letter of the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 which govern US relations with Taiwan.

The Act requires the US to supply arms to Taiwan in such amounts as the country needs to protect itself against a Chinese military attack.

Under the Act, in deciding whether to sell the arms, the US must make its decisions ¡§based solely upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan,¡¨ the bill says.

Congressional sources complain that the administration¡¦s reported reasoning for the freeze, which includes concerns over China¡¦s opposition, Bush¡¦s impending trip to Beijing for the opening of the Olympics and the need for China¡¦s cooperation in the North Korea nuclear stalemate, is a violation of the ¡§based solely¡¨ mandate.

They also complain that a recent statement attributed to Admiral Timothy Keating, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, that the US consults with China about arms sales to Taiwan runs afoul of the Act and former president Ronald Reagan¡¦s ¡§six assurances¡¨ that the US would not discuss the arms with Beijing.

If the bill is taken up by the Foreign Affairs Committee, it probably would not happen before September, given the Congress¡¦ impending month-long recess. That could coincide with the administration¡¦s notification of Congress of its plan to sell any of the frozen packages, under the most optimistic timetable of supporters of the arms sales.



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Rebuilding mutual trust with Japan

By Lai I Chung ¿à©É©¾
Friday, Aug 01, 2008, Page 8

The mutual trust between Taiwan and Japan that the former Democratic Progressive Party government developed over eight years has been smashed by President Ma Ying-jeou (°¨­^¤E) and his administration, and is now on the verge of collapsing.

Within 100 days of Ma¡¦s accession to power, there have been five incidents that have had an impact on the nation¡¦s relations with Japan. First, Ma announced that he intended to pay a visit to Japan during a press conference with foreign journalists without first talking it over with Tokyo.

Second, he intentionally failed to mention Japan in his inaugural address.

Next, he vacillated on his position in handling the controversy over the Diaoyutai (³¨³½¥x) islands and violated the almost three-decade-long tacit agreement between the two countries that patrol vessels would not be dispatched to the disputed waters.

Ma also claimed there was an ¡§exchange of classified letters¡¨ between high-level officials of the two countries to resolve the Diaoyutai issue.

Now, he has even allowed rumors to circulate in the media about the candidate for Taiwan¡¦s representative to Japan before having discussed the issue with the Japanese government.

Among these incidents, media reports on the alleged ¡§exchange of confidential letters¡¨ between high-ranking officials have particularly battered mutual trust. A Central News Agency report on July 21 said the Japanese government had dismissed talks of a confidential exchange, adding that these rumors only hurt bilateral relations. A high-ranking official from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also told me of his surprise and bewilderment over the misleading reports in Taiwan.

Tokyo was already a bit concerned about Taiwan equivocating on the Diaoyutai issue and these rumors about secret exchanges have only raised concerns that the Ma administration would willingly fabricate stories to increase his political standing. Several Japanese diplomats have pointed out that Ma still has to publicly apologize for his fictitious story about meeting former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2006. These recent rumors of a private exchange of letters between Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Taiwan have only added to Tokyo¡¦s suspicions about the Ma government¡¦s integrity. Thus it is not alarmist talk at all to say that Taiwan-Japan relations are on the verge of collapse.

Taiwan¡¦s relations with the US and Japan are the foundation of cross-strait relations. Only by building good trust with these two allies can Taiwan have leverage over its negotiations with China. Beijing had already taken advantage of the upcoming Olympics to denigrate Taiwan by changing its title in defiance of the 1989 Hong Kong agreement because it believed the Ma administration had lost the trust of the US and Japan.

If Ma continues to hold on to his foolish policy of placing cross-strait relations ahead of other diplomatic relations and that Taiwan should move closer to China while distancing itself from the US and Japan, it is very likely that Taiwan will be forced to succumb to a unification framework before Chinese President Hu Jintao (­JÀAÀÜ) leaves office in 2012.

Lai I-chung is an executive committee member of the Taiwan Thinktank.


Listen to the voice

Hegemonism behind arms 'freeze'

By J. Michael Cole ±Fî°±N
Friday, Aug 01, 2008, Page 8

Recent weeks Have seen a lot of ink spilled on the US arms ¡§freeze¡¨ on Taiwan. Yet Washington not only has failed to provide a clear answer on the matter, but its diverse agencies have also sent contradictory messages.

While the US Department of State denies there is a freeze in place, others ¡X such as the commander of US Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating ¡X for all intents and purposes have confirmed the existence of the policy. There were even rumors, later discarded, that it was the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that had requested the freeze, lest the conclusion of the arms transaction scuttle its plans to improve relations across the Taiwan Strait.

Members of the US Congress, meanwhile, have drafted letters to US President George W. Bush, pressing him to provide Taiwan with the weapons included in the package, while former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz said in Taipei recently that Bush is a man who keeps his commitments and that he would deliver before his term ends.

While the region waits to see how this plays out, academics have sought to determine the rationale behind the freeze ¡X if such is indeed Washington¡¦s policy. Some have argued that the Bush administration implemented the policy to give the KMT and its counterparts in Beijing enough space to move toward a diplomatic rapprochement, while others have stated that the US is waiting for the Beijing Olympic Games to end before finalizing the agreement.

Fingers have been pointed at the former Democratic Progressive Party government for ¡§alienating¡¨ Washington and at the KMT-dominated legislature for blocking the appropriations bill for so long that by the time the budget was unlocked, Washington may have changed its mind.

In reality, however, an arms freeze could have less to do with diplomatic idiosyncrasies and more with the US¡¦ grand strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. By looking at how, since before the end of World War II, Washington has sought to prevent the emergence of multipolarity and, as a corollary, created the need for a US military presence in core and outlying areas of strategic interest, Washington¡¦s decision could begin to make more sense.

As Christopher Layne writes in The Illusion of Peace: ¡§If any of the major powers in Europe and East Asia acquire the military capabilities to defend themselves unaided by the United States, their neighbors will feel threatened, latent ¡¥security dilemmas¡¦ will resurface, and a cycle of rising tensions and arms races (possibly including nuclear proliferation) will be triggered.¡¨

In light of China¡¦s ongoing modernization of its military forces ¡X with a budget estimated at anywhere between US$50 billion and US$79 billion and a 17.6 percent increase this year ¡X added to acquisitions that, if they continue apace, could soon make area denial a reality and thus threaten US military forces in the region, Washington may be loath to feed Layne¡¦s ¡§security dilemma¡¨ by providing Taiwan with more modern military technology, which could only encourage Beijing to spend even more on its armed forces.

And what goes on in Asia cannot be decoupled from what is going on elsewhere.

There is every indication, regardless of who wins the US presidential election in November, that the Middle East will continue to tie up the core of US military forces for years to come. Consequently, the US has little advantage in enacting policies ¡X such as arms sales to Taiwan ¡X that would spark an arms race in East Asia and make it likelier that China or Japan will become increasingly nationalistic and emerge as regional poles, as this would put US military strength at a relative disadvantage unless it were committed and could afford to bolster its forces in East Asia and the Middle East simultaneously.

Many academics suspect that the US is committed to a policy of hegemonism in East Asia, one that, as articulated in the National Security Strategy (2002), is part of an overarching goal of preventing the emergence of a military capable enough to challenge US forces (known in some circles as the ¡§Wolfowitz doctrine,¡¨ though the strategy predates Wolfowitz¡¦s Defense Planning Guidance, written in 1992, by at least 45 years).

In Europe after World War II, the US prevented the emergence (or re-emergence, in Germany¡¦s case) of strong states capable of ensuring their own security and, by extension, threatening their neighbors. Washington used a two-pronged approach to accomplish this, by (a) maintaining a strong US military presence on the continent to act as a stabilizing force, and (b) compelling European states to subsume their defenses into NATO, which fell under US command.

Given US security guarantees, the need for strong national military forces was obviated, while no state could act outside the NATO chain of command.

Despite its strong military presence in South Korea and Japan, the US has been somewhat less successful in preventing the emergence of poles in Asia, especially in the power vacuum created following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Washington¡¦s intensifying focus on the Middle East, its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the global ¡§war on terror¡¨ and Iran¡¦s nuclear ambitions, with Israel/Palestine and Lebanon on the periphery.

While security guarantees have been successful in preventing the emergence of South Korea as a regional power and the re-emergence of Japan, the US does not have a regional security agglomeration equivalent to NATO in Asia, which has allowed China to build up its strength with little opposition, aside from calls by Washington for more transparency.

These limitations notwithstanding, the US has not abandoned its hegemonistic ambitions in Asia, which have a better chance of succeeding if China is not prompted to accelerate the modernization of its military by arms sales to Taiwan.

Another variable in the US balancing act could explain the freeze. Again, Layne: ¡§To stymie multipolar tendencies, U.S. grand strategy aims to ¡¥reassure¡¦ its European and East Asian allies that they do not have to worry about taking care of their own security.¡¨

These reassurances ¡X like the Taiwan Relations Act ¡X create the necessity for a permanent US presence in the region or defense agreements with countries like Taiwan. By hiding hegemonistic designs behind security guarantees (Taiwan need not worry, the US will come to its aid), the US can therefore perpetuate its grand strategy of unipolarity while avoiding criticism that it engages in imperialism.

The present arms package cannot ensure that Taiwan can defend itself on its own against a Chinese attack. However, by blocking it, the US has created a win-win situation for itself, as it may prevent accelerated modernization of the Chinese military and makes it easier to justify a strong US military presence in the Asia-Pacific generally by making it indispensable to guarantee the security of states like Taiwan.

J. Michael Cole is a writer based in Taipei.


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