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Details finalized for cross-strait talks

THREE TOPICS: Formal negotiations will be held next Sunday in Nanjing and will include agreements on financial cooperation, cross-strait regular flights and crime

By Mo Yan-chih

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 1

The third round of cross-strait talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) will be held from April 25 to April 29 in Nanjing, China, a preparatory meeting for the talks determined yesterday.

The delegation and representatives of the SEF will arrive in Nanjing on April 25. SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his counterpart, ARATS Chairman Chen Yun-lin (陳雲林), will hold the formal negotiations on April 26, SEF Secretary-General Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉) told a press conference after the preparatory meeting at Taipei Grand Hyatt Hotel yesterday.

Kao, ARATS Deputy Chairman Zheng Lizhong (鄭立中) and their respective delegations held the preparatory meeting yesterday to determine the time, venue and agenda for the ­upcoming talks and put the final touches on three pacts to be signed during the meeting.

Chiang and Chen are expected to sign three agreements after the negotiations; one each on financial cooperation, changing direct cross-strait charter flights into regular flights and joint efforts to combat crime, as well as a joint statement on opening Taiwan to investment from China, Kao said.

Kao said the SEF and ARATS would not sign three ­memorandums of understanding (MOU) on banking, securities and futures, and insurance that Taiwan had wanted to sign because of the complexity of each of the three items.

Both sides would discuss the three items during the negotiations before signing the MOUs at a future date, he said.

In response to possible discussion of the government’s proposed economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, Kao said the preparatory meeting did not touch on the issue.

“Both sides agree that the issue should be addressed when the time is ripe. At the current stage, each side will focus on making the necessary preparations,” he said.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi (王毅), however, had said on a different occasion that representatives from the two sides would exchange ideas on an ECFA during the talks.

Asked whether China would help repatriate Taiwanese fugitives such as former Tuntex Group chairman Chen Yu-hao (陳由豪) after signing an agreement on combating crime, Kao said the meeting did not address any individual cases, but added that ­repatriating economic criminals would be included in the agreement.

Zheng declined to divulge more on the matter during a press conference held by ARATS.

Kao declined to confirm Lai’s comment that a new air route would be determined during the meeting, and that both sides would seek to make cross-strait transportation more convenient for people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Chiang and the SEF delegation will meet Wang on April 26, and visit Taiwanese businesses in Nanjing, Yangzhou and Shanghai in the following days before returning to Taiwan on April 29.



DPP slams KMT request to delist real estate assets

By Rich Chang
Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday slammed the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for ordering the nation’s land bureaus to erase notes on real estate belonging to the party.

The DPP yesterday said the documents that the KMT submitted to the Ministry of the Interior requesting that notes attached to the party’s property registrations be removed was aimed at protecting party property and burying evidence that the party did not intend to make good on its promise to return its stolen assets.

The KMT submitted its request on April 3 to the ministry, which then referred the request to city and county governments, asking them to instruct local land management authorities to remove the notes.

DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said the KMT government had ordered the local bureaus to hide the KMT’s properties.

He said the former DPP government in December 2005 had asked that real estate belonging to the KMT be marked on land documents to remind people and companies wanting to buy it that it might in the future be expropriated by the country.

He said the KMT had promised to return the party’s properties to the country, but that it had again lied to the nation.

The KMT can do whatever it likes because of its domination at the legislature, but people will remember its greed, he said.

Cheng said the KMT was preparing to use some of its properties to fund campaigning for the mayor and commissioner elections in December, adding that the move was shameful and illegal.

In response, KMT Central Administration and Management Committee Chairman Lin Yung-jui (林永瑞) said he had not received a reply, adding that there was no legal foundation for attaching notes to the party’s property registration.

Lin said that removing such notes was simply a return to rule by law and legal government.

Lin also said that at the time, he questioned whether former finance minister Lin Chuan (林全) had any legal grounds for attaching such notes, calling it political manipulation.

In response to the DPP’s accusations, Lin said the KMT continued to sell off its party-run businesses and that these were two completely different issues.



Congress report tackles Taiwan

PREOCCUPIED: The report said that the sudden rise in Chinese military might at a time when the US is engaged in multiple wars is very worrying for policy planners

By William Lowther
Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 3

A new report to the US Congress said Taiwan remained “the most sensitive and complex issue” that US politicians faced in bilateral China-US relations.

“It is the issue that many observers most fear could lead to potential US-China conflict,” the report said.

Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, the report was part of a series of papers designed to bring members of both the House and Senate up to date on the most important aspects of foreign policy.

The report said that some China-watchers have speculated on whether US policy toward Taiwan would continue along its current path under the administration of US President Barack Obama or whether the White House would undertake a reassessment similar to the Taiwan Policy Review that the administration of former US president Bill Clinton conducted from 1993 to 1994.

“Such a prospect has support among some American scholars and policymakers, who suggest that there are a variety of reasons why the original US policy framework on Taiwan should be revisited. Some cite, for instance, the need to support Taiwan’s evolution as a full democracy since 1994; others cite concerns about what US policy should be if Taiwan’s [President] Ma [Ying-jeou’s (馬英九)] administration should choose closer relations, or even alignment, with the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” it said.

Kerry Dumbaugh, the Congressional Research Service’s specialist in Asian affairs, said in the report that Obama, then a US senator, expressed support for last year’s decision by former US president George W. Bush to sell US$6.4 billion in arms and military services to Taiwan.

This suggested, she said, that “US arms sales policies will not change in the Obama administration.”

The report continued: “China’s robust international engagement since 2000 has caught some by surprise and has prompted growing American debate over the PRC’s motivations and objectives. The fact that most of this international engagement has expanded while the US has been preoccupied with its military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has caused a certain degree of American introspection.”

“Experience shows that abrupt, unexplained shifts in policy still occur with a fair degree of regularity in the PRC system. Still, some fundamental objectives appear to be motivating Beijing’s foreign policy outreach,” it said.

“These include an imperative to promote and enhance China’s economic development, particularly its voracious appetite for energy resources and raw materials to sustain its impressive annual growth rate; an effort to separate Taiwan from its 23 remaining official relationships; and a desire to increase China’s international stature and compete more successfully with US supremacy,” the report said.

In its last annual report on China’s military, the Pentagon concluded that the pace and scope of China’s military modernization had increased in recent years, and included “acquisition of advanced foreign weapons, continued high rates of investment in its domestic defense and science and technology industries, and far-reaching organizational and doctrinal reforms.”

“US military planners and other American military specialists maintain that PRC improvements appear largely focused on a Taiwan contingency and on strategies to ‘deny access’ to the military forces of a third party — most probably the US — in the event of a conflict over Taiwan,” the report said.

“The Pentagon report maintains that this build-up poses a long-term threat to Taiwan and ultimately to the US military presence in Asia,” it said.

Dumbaugh makes clear that the Pentagon report also highlights US concerns about how little is known of the motivations and capabilities of the PRC’s military or decision-making processes.

She said that Obama has inherited a China relationship that is not only more complex and multifaceted than in the past, but one in which “the stakes are higher and in which US action may increasingly be constrained.”



Taiwan-US relations heading toward crisis: pundits

By Rich Chang
Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 3

Pundits said yesterday that Taiwan-US relations were heading toward a crisis because President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) China-leaning policies have made US intervention in cross-strait relations more difficult.

At a forum held to discuss Taiwan-China-US relations in the wake of last week’s 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), an executive member of the pro-localization Taiwan Thinktank and former director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) International Affairs Department, said that 2012 would be an important year for Taiwan’s survival.

Washington is preoccupied with the economic recession and peace-keeping work in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as nuclear challenges from Iran and North Korea, and challenges from the rise of leftist governments in Latin America. The US is likely to pay little attention to the Taiwan Strait, and therefore regards “no news as good news” when it comes to cross-strait affairs, Lai said.

Lai added that because China’s clout was increasing and the US needed China’s cooperation on a range of international and economic issues, US policymakers would not likely challenge China on issues related to Taiwan.

Current US-Taiwan policy is passive and could only be described as “crisis management and war avoidance,” said Lai, adding that the TRA would become trivial if this situation continued.

While Ma’s government was getting closer to China at an unexpected speed, China has not relaxed its tough approach toward Taiwan, Lai said. Instead it was taking every chance to control the nation in terms of economics, cross-strait negotiations, Taiwan’s diplomacy and others.

Lai said that because Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) were scheduled to step down in 2012, they likely wanted to leave a legacy and set the course for their successors.

Also, Ma’s four-year term will expire in 2012 and Beijing is likely to make an effort to help Ma win re-election, Lai said.

Lai said if the US continued to ignore the Taiwan Strait, then 2012 might be a year of dramatic change.

Former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told the forum Ma’s government did not seek to improve Taiwan-US relations, and its China-leaning policies had not brought Taiwan any closer to the US.

He said Ma had only received good treatment from the US when he stopped in Los Angeles and San aLatin America and the Caribbean in August last year, and Washington did not approve selling F-16 fighter jets and diesel submarines that Taiwan had requested.

He said Ma was ignoring Taiwan’s democratic ally, while pushing the country toward a crisis.


Another crackdown on corruption

By Lin Feng-jeng 林峰正
Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 8

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week announced that all corruption cases, regardless of whether they involve pan-blue or pan-green officials, must be thoroughly and promptly investigated, and ordered the judiciary and executive branches to submit a report on all major corruption cases within three months.

Shortly after these announcements, Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) told the legislature that the ministry had completed a feasibility study on establishing an anti-corruption agency and that it would submit a proposal on measures to weed out corruption within three months. Failing to do that, Wang said she would step down.

These policy statements by the president and a minister were made in response to mounting allegations of corruption within the military, including selling titles and offices, and a report last week by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy on foreign business executives’ perception of corruption in Taiwan and China. Wang even put her career at stake in an attempt to gain public trust.

Announcing a crackdown on corruption is nothing new nor surprising. In fact, it would be big news if the government failed to announce actions to combat corruption. All Taiwanese leaders have at one point or another declared their stance against corruption, with some even saying that the Lafayette scandal must be resolved even if it shook Taiwan to the core. Sadly, those promises were never realized.

The reasons why the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regained power after eight years in opposition are complex, with the pan-green and pan-blue camps offering differing explanations of the cause. However, I believe no one would dispute my contention that the main reason was the clean image that Ma has created over the years. This being the case, the public has high expectations of the KMT government after its return to power and probably lent strong support to the government’s fight against corruption. While similar policy statements from past administrations never resulted in any substantive improvement, we are still willing to give strong support to the current government.

Apart from showing our support, however, we should also express our concern. After the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power, the administration made a crackdown on corruption a key policy. Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), with his clean and honest image, was named minister of justice. Chen pushed a plan to eliminate “black gold” politics and established the Black Gold Investigation Center (查緝黑金行動中心) under the Taiwan High Court Prosecutors’ Office (台灣高檢署). For a time, these initiatives won public acclaim for investigating a few high-profile cases that saw a number of symbolic figures of “black gold” politics being brought before the law.

After a few years in office, the DPP administration reverted back to being in opposition after losing the presidential election, but statistics released by the Ministry of Justice are worrying. These figures show that from 2001 through last year, 93.1 percent of people involved in regular criminal cases were convicted after being charged by prosecutors, but the rate of conviction for corruption was only 56.1 percent. If we single out influence peddling as a crime, the conviction rate was even lower at 33.9 percent.

Why were the final results of the program to eliminate black gold so embarrassing? The government has a responsibility to make a thorough review and locate the problem areas, especially the Ministry of Justice, which must not attempt to cover things up and sugar coat the truth. In fact, behind these ugly statistics lie many cases never tried. Senior ministry members are fully aware of this, but no one is willing to step forward and do something.

The government is saying yet again that it will tackle corruption. We have no reason to oppose this and should gladly welcome such moves. However, history has shown us time and time again that crackdowns on corruption do not necessarily bring the problem under control and corruption cases have never stopped occurring. If prosecutors do not carefully follow procedure and qualify everything with proof, this new initiative will be another disaster. This is something the government must not overlook.

Lin Feng-jeng is the executive director of the Judicial Reform Foundation.



Taiwanese right to determine jurisdiction

By Joshua Tin 田台仁
Sunday, Apr 19, 2009, Page 8

The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) passed by the US Congress in 1979 refers to “relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan.” The TRA’s starting point is neither territory nor sovereignty, but “people.”

The wording of the 1972 US-China Shanghai Communique is different, referring to the “Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait.”

While the “people on Taiwan” include some of the “Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait,” the “Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait” cannot conversely be interpreted as including the “people on Taiwan,” otherwise the TRA would protect the interests of the “Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait.”

If the TRA covered the Chinese on the other side of the Taiwan Strait, things would really get complicated.

Since the collective referred to in the TRA is the “people on Taiwan,” the “people on Taiwan” can of course express their position to the US based on the terms of the TRA, namely that they cannot accept the jurisdiction of the Chinese government.

Such a position does not touch on the questions of territory and sovereignty, but it is a clear expression of the intentions of the “people on Taiwan” with regard to who shall have jurisdiction over them as citizens.

From beginning to end, the TRA stresses the purpose of guaranteeing the right to express this will. Furthermore, people’s fundamental right to choose who shall have jurisdiction over them is a matter of individual will and therefore cannot be decided by any kind of democratic process.

To make a more extreme example, if one day the US felt that the territory of Taiwan should be administered by the Chinese government in Beijing, it would first have to deal with the question of what will happen to those “people on Taiwan” who don’t want to be administered by the Beijing government.

In other words, the US is obliged by its own law — the TRA — to guarantee the right of the “people on Taiwan” to decide who will have jurisdiction over them, and the US defines Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty as “political power.”

Under the terms of the 1898 Treaty of Paris that concluded the Spanish-American War, the US and Spain gave every resident of the Philippines the right to choose his or her nationality.

Similarly, in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, signed in 1895 at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, China and Japan gave each inhabitant of Taiwan the right to choose his or her nationality after China ceded the island to Japan.

Based on these historical precedents, the US, when considering the question of Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty, should also give serious consideration to the individual will of each Taiwanese as to whether they are willing to accept China’s jurisdiction.

Under the TRA, Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty and the “people on Taiwan” are clearly different. More than 5 million of the “people on Taiwan” could firmly express to the US their unwillingness to be citizens of China or accept the Chinese government’s jurisdiction. Such an expression of will would send a clear message to the world.

In August, the US and China will hold an unprecedented three-day closed-door meeting on the Taiwan question in Washington. If Taiwanese were to make known their stand on the issue, US President Barrack Obama would have to give it serious consideration in the course of the talks.

Joshua Tin is an economist.

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