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US removes North Korea from terrorism blacklist

Monday, Oct 13, 2008, Page 1

North Korea said yesterday it would resume its work to disable plutonium-producing nuclear plants and readmit UN inspectors after the US removed it from a terrorism blacklist.

South Korea said Washington’s move had put the nuclear disarmament process back on track, after a six-party deal appeared close to collapse, but a Japanese minister strongly criticized the US decision.

“As the US fulfilled its commitment to make political compensation and a fair verification procedure ... the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] decided to resume the disablement of nuclear facilities in Yongbyon and allow the inspectors of the US and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] to perform their duties,” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman, quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency, welcomed the US move announced on Saturday and said Pyongyang would cooperate in verification.

But the spokesman cautioned that the US must ensure the delisting “actually takes effect.”

Signatories to the six-party deal must also complete delivery of energy aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars that was promised in return for the disabling.

The US State Department said the North had agreed to verification of all of its nuclear activities, including an alleged covert highly enriched uranium program and suspected proliferation.

“Every element of verification that we sought is included in this package,” US State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said on Saturday.

The deal allows for outside experts to visit both declared and undeclared sites in North Korea, take samples and equipment for analysis, view documents and interview staff, US officials said.

However, visits to sites not included in the North’s nuclear declaration delivered in June will require “mutual consent.”

The June declaration dealt only with the admitted plutonium operation based at Yongbyon.

The North’s spokesman said the deal relates to “the verification of objects of the disablement,” a reference to Yongbyon.

Seoul’s top nuclear envoy Kim Sook said he expected six-party talks to resume “as early as possible.”

“The government appreciates that the measure will contribute to putting six-party talks back on track, a move that will eventually lead to North Korea’s nuclear abandonment,” Kim told reporters.

Japan had urged Washington not to delist North Korea, pressing first for more information on the fate of Japanese kidnapped by the North in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I believe abductions amount to terrorist acts,” Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa told reporters in Washington.

But Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said the US step would not affect talks on resolving the abductions dispute.

Kim Tae-woo, of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, called it “an agreement for an agreement’s sake.”

He said he suspected the US and North Korea both had “political reasons” to reach this kind of deal to pacify critics at home.


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Tsai warns of Chinese students’ impact

POLICY: The Ministry of Education has included recognition of Chinese credentials and allowing Chinese students to enroll in Taiwanese universities on its agenda

By Flora Wang
Monday, Oct 13, 2008, Page 3

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday urged the government to deliberate on the impact of its plan to allow Chinese students to enroll in universities in Taiwan.

“Recognizing Chinese diplomas and allowing Chinese students to attend universities in Taiwan is a public policy issue, not a political or ideological issue,” Tsai said during a conference held by the party’s Policy Research Committee yesterday morning.

“This issue has many levels of complexity and [any decision] could change the basic social structure of the two sides across the Taiwan Strait,” she said.

Tsai said the Chinese Nationalist Party government had been arguing for the policy on the grounds that the policy could help improve cross-strait relations.

“But I don’t think there is a causal relation here,” she said.

Tsai accused the government of failing to deal with the issue seriously and conduct thorough policy planning and evaluation before President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) announced last month that the policy might take effect next year at the earliest.

The Ministry of Education has included recognizing Chinese credentials and enrolling Chinese students in Taiwan’s universities as part of its objectives after the president made the announcement.

Ma had said that Chinese students would not be allowed to participate in examinations for professional certificates in Taiwan.

Hsieh Kuo-ching (謝國清), chairman of the National Alliance of Parents Organization, said at the conference that the government had defended its plan by saying that recruiting students from China would help private universities overcome the threat posed by a declining birth rate.

“But from a parent’s perspective, [the policy should not be imposed] simply to help private universities solve their problem,” Hsieh said, adding that the government should provide parents with more statistics to persuade them that the policy would bring positive effects.

Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), a professor of Taiwanese history at National Chengchi University, said he had reservations about the government’s plan because the government might not be able to achieve the positive effects it wanted.

Medical student Yang Chih-yuan (楊智淵), who attended yesterday’s conference, said he was concerned that Chinese students would use up the educational resources local students enjoy.

“Taiwan and China are competing with each other. Therefore, Taiwan should have a stricter regulation on Chinese students than the US and Europe do, or there will be an impact on the distribution of educational resources, the balance of our job market and our social stability,” Yang said.




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Supervising cross-strait deals

Monday, Oct 13, 2008, Page 8

The visit by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) will be a milestone. It will likely lead to agreements between ARATS and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation on cross-strait cargo, flight routes and the establishment of a food safety mechanism.

The question is how such agreements should be legally defined, to what extent they are binding on the government and the public and how the legislature should approach supervision of the agreements. All are issues that must be carefully considered before any deals are reached.

As expected, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) suggestion that any agreements be submitted for legislative review was opposed by the Cabinet and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters. The KMT is in charge of the executive and the legislature and does not want interference from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus or any other legislators who sense an opportunity in holding any deal to account.

The KMT seems to think that blocking legislative review of cross-strait agreements will keep the DPP, and the legislature more generally, from meddling. However, Article 5 of the Statute Governing Relations Between Peoples Of The Taiwan Area And The Mainland Area — a pan-blue-camp amendment — states that contents of agreements requiring legislative amendment must be submitted to the legislature within 30 days of the agreement being settled, and even when no amendments are required, the contents must be sent to the legislature for the record.

An act governing cross-strait agreements, which Wang seems to support, is in effect an extension of regulations from 2000 that govern the operations of a legislative group that comments on cross-strait matters. The legislative speaker and deputy speaker serve as chairmen of the group.

In 2005, pan-blue-camp legislators unanimously amended the regulations (DPP legislators had marched out in protest) to remove the Cabinet monopoly on cross-strait policy. This was done to combat DPP government policy, but now, of course, it places restrictions on a KMT government.

Governments may change, but the basics of democratic supervision should not. Cross-strait agreements are likely to have a much greater impact on Taiwan than many other bilateral deals. The legislature is charged with supervising the executive, which is why it is natural, reasonable and legitimate for such agreements to be submitted to the legislature.

Popularly elected institutions should participate in cross-strait affairs, but the different duties and powers of the executive and the legislature mean that legislators should not be involved in the execution of policy nor participate in negotiations, as this would blur the separation of powers.

Even so, the role of the legislature is worthy of further discussion. The pan-blue camp once determined that elected representatives should supervise and participate in cross-strait negotiations, so it cannot coherently attempt to block the legislature and the DPP from enjoying the same privileges.

It may be difficult, if not impossible, in the short term to develop cross-strait policies that are acceptable to the Cabinet and the legislature and to the KMT and the DPP, but in the long run, this is the only feasible solution if Taiwan is to turn a geopolitical dilemma into an opportunity.


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 Threat of force has its place

While I think it’s admirable, indeed imperative, that people of all political persuasions in Taiwan work toward a common consensus with regard to Taiwan-China relations, strict neutrality is not the way forward (“Neutrality is Taiwan’s best option,” Oct. 6, page 8).

Far from perfect is the situation that Taiwan finds itself in when we talk about the “status quo” in cross-strait relations. The status quo, unfortunately, is the best that Taiwan has at this juncture. It’s the security dynamic between China, Taiwan and the US that has fostered Taiwan’s de facto independence over the years. This fluid relationship is also, for the moment, the best way to maintain it. Changing Taiwan’s Constitution to renounce the use of force would fundamentally change this dynamic and could lead to further regional instability.

China has in excess of 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. This statement isn’t meant to stir pro-independence fervor, but rather to state facts as they stand. Without a concrete agreement in which China also renounces the use of force against its smaller neighbor, a constitutional change would be reckless regardless of Taiwan’s progress toward self-determination.

In effect, Taiwan would be inviting China to press its strategic advantage while at the same time bringing into question — at least from a US perspective — whether Taiwan is serious in defending its sovereignty.

Add to all this a global reconfiguration that is quietly but inexorably playing itself out as we speak. The US is still the world’s largest economy, with all the political and military clout that accompanies this. But Washington is paying the price for a largely unregulated financial system, bad debt and military over-reach.

At the same time, China and Russia are finding themselves increasingly able to assert pressure internationally. Does anyone really believe that, as things stand, the US is in a good position to guarantee Taiwan’s security? Recent events in Georgia, where the US seemed absolutely powerless to intervene, were instructive.

The weakening of the US already has the potential to upset the status quo in the region. A unilateral renouncing of force without a concomitant and binding response from China invites further destabilization. Whatever the way forward is for Taiwan, the answer does not lie in blindly putting faith in China’s goodwill and its opaque plans for Taiwan.



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