- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2001

Chinese subtlety?

Subtlety was not the goal when a senior Chinese official told reporters that China would use force to stop Taiwan from declaring independence.

Zhou Mingwei, vice minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan has no right to hold even a referendum on independence, much less declare its sovereignty from the communist mainland.

A reporter at a Chinese Embassy news conference last week asked Mr. Zhou to clarify hard-line remarks about a possible referendum attributed to him by China's Xinhua news service during a visit to New York earlier on his five-day trip.

"Xinhua reported … that you took a very hard-line view on Taiwan, saying something to the effect that the alternative to reunification is war," the reporter said.

"Was this over-interpreted, exaggerated in some way?"

Mr. Zhou replied, "Certainly there is no legal basis for such a referendum. The sovereignty of Taiwan belongs to the whole of China belongs to the whole Chinese."

He said a referendum "sounds quite democratic or very reasonable."

However, he warned, "In some cases, I have to remind you that it could be very misleading or naive, or sometimes even irresponsible."

A referendum on Taiwan would ignore the wishes of mainland.

"Anything other than reunification could very much lead to probably emotional consequences," Mr. Zhou said.

"If [the Taiwanese] say, 'We want to have another choice than unification' … then the overall solution could narrow down to only one choice, certainly not peace.

"That's my answer."

Lebanon recovering

The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon believes the country is beginning to recover from an economic crisis now in its second year.

Ambassador David Satterfield told reporters in Beirut that Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri had adopted "extremely positive" measures that include privatizing industries, cutting the budget deficit and encouraging foreign investment.

"They are certain to inspire confidence in the markets and confidence in the future of the Lebanese economy," he said last week after a meeting with Mr. Hariri.

"They are very good developments and it's something we support very strongly. Certainly we think the markets will respond."

Lebanon is struggling with $25 billion in national debt and has suffered for two years with a declining economy.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft, who meets Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Tomorrow

• South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who meets President Bush on Wednesday.

• Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. She leads a delegation that includes Chris Patten, the commissioner for external affairs, and Javier Solana, the high representative for foreign and security policy. They will attend a meeting of EU and U.S. officials and hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. at the National Press Club.

• Prime Minister Affi N'Guessan of Ivory Coast, who meets the Freedom Forum African Correspondents Association.

Wednesday

• NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, who discusses European defense with invited guests of the New Atlantic Initiative.

• Queen Noor of Jordan, patron of the Landmine Survivors Network. She attends an 11 a.m. hearing of the House Human Rights Caucus in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

• John Redwood, Britain's former secretary of state for Wales. He discusses the future of Europe with invited guests at the Heritage Foundation.

Thursday

• Pascal Lamy, European Union commissioner for trade, who meets with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Friday

• Gidrius Cekuolis, deputy foreign minister of Lithuania, and Alvydas Medalinskas, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee. They will meet State and Defense Department officials.


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