- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

A brief visit to Los Angeles later this month by Taiwan's new president has triggered a new round of squabbling between Beijing and Taipei and prompted new worries for the Clinton administration's troubled China policy.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian will stay overnight on the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention on his way to visit some of the countries that have diplomatic relations with Taipei, Clinton administration officials said Thursday.
Upon arrival Aug. 13, Mr. Chen will be greeted by Richard Bush, the U.S. representative to the island nation, which China views as a breakaway province.
The State Department calls the visit a "transit stop" and does not expect the new president to do public appearances or media interviews, said administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Chinese government opposes the one-day visit and has expressed its views to U.S. officials here and in Beijing, said Zhang Yuanyuan, press spokesman for the Chinese Embassy.
"Of course we're opposed to this kind of action on the part of the U.S. government," Mr. Zhang said in an interview. "Especially when the new Taiwanese leader, since his coming to power last March, has not embraced the one-China principle. This kind of action might send out some wrong signals to the forces in Taiwan that promote separatism and independence."
"They always make this kind of comment," retorted Eric Chiang, director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, when asked about China's opposition.
"We don't think that helps to promote the atmosphere between the two sides," said Mr. Chiang, whose agency represents the Taiwanese government in the United States.
Beijing and Taipei continue to engage in diplomatic wrangling over Taiwan's ties with other countries.
Beijing has insisted Taiwan is legitimately part of the People's Republic of China, ruled by the Communist government formed in 1949 as a result of a civil war. Nationalist Chinese leaders and forces fled to the island after the Communist victory.
The State Department and the White House said the stop was routine, although officials acknowledged there could be political fallout from Beijing any time the leader of Taiwan comes to the United States.
"President Chen will make a brief transit stop in the United States for the purpose of traveling to the Caribbean area," a State Department official said.
During the visit, Mr. Chen will stay at a hotel in Los Angeles.
Democrats will hold their presidential convention in Los Angeles beginning Aug. 14. Mr. Chen is scheduled to depart that day on his trip to three of the 29 nations in Latin America and Africa that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China.
Mr. Chen will visit the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and the West African nation of Burkina Faso during his first overseas visit as president, Taiwanese officials said.
Asked whether Mr. Chen is restricted from holding meetings or giving press interviews, the State Department official said, "We understand Mr. Chen's activities will be private and consistent with the purpose of a transit stop."
Such stops are granted for senior Taiwanese leaders' "safety, comfort and convenience" on a case-by-case basis, he said.
"We understand there will be no public and media events," the official said.
Officials said the visit is not expected to touch off another Taiwan crisis, as occurred following the 1995 visit to the United States by Mr. Chen's predecessor, Lee Teng-hui.
Mr. Lee was granted a visa to attend a meeting in New York after Secretary of State Warren Christopher had told Beijing there would be no visit by the Taiwanese president.
A year later the United States and China had a military face-off after China's military fired short-range missiles into areas near Taiwan, prompting the Pentagon to dispatch two aircraft carrier battle groups.
Mr. Chiang, the Taiwanese representative, confirmed that Mr. Chen is not expected to have any public schedule during the visit.
"There is an understanding between our two countries that the U.S. side only provides for the convenience of the traveler," Mr. Chiang said. "He will not have any public activities during his stay."
Mr. Chen's aides said earlier this year that the Taiwanese president might visit the United States before his inauguration in May. China's government also opposed that plan.
Tensions have remained high between China and Taiwan for the past year over Mr. Lee's statements about having state-to-state relations language interpreted by Beijing as a step toward formal independence.
Mr. Chen's election in March was preceded by new threats against Taiwan by Chinese leaders. His Democratic Progressive Party in the past has called for independence.
U.S. relations with China plummeted last year after NATO warplanes accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Since then, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen have visited China to repair relations. Chinese officials rebuffed an appeal from Mrs. Albright to renew Beijing-Taipei talks.
Meanwhile, China's official news media reported Thursday that the Chinese military is conducting large-scale military exercises opposite Taiwan involving some 110,000 troops.
The war games in the Nanjing military district are taking place along the 3,700-mile coast line encompassing Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, the official People's Daily stated.
A military spokesman told the newspaper the drills include naval, amphibious and ground forces, submarines, gunboats, paratroopers and attack helicopters. The forces are needed "to prevail in future local wars under high-technology conditions," the spokesman said.
The exercises are taking place as the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville is visiting the Chinese port of Qingdao, the first visit by a U.S. ship to a mainland port in two years.

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