- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

TAIPEI, Taiwan An inside look into China's new generation of leaders demonstrates what many here already expected: Beijing would prefer to wait until Taiwan's leader is out of office before any new attempt to ease tensions with its longtime rival.
Columbia University professor Andrew Nathan and China specialist Bruce Gilley make the case in a new book, "China's New Leaders: The Secret Files," which is based on transcripts of internal party reports smuggled out of China by a Chinese now living in the United States.
"Chen Shui-bian is temporary," the book quotes the new Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, as saying of Taiwan's democratically elected leader.
Last month, President Jiang Zemin stepped down as general secretary of China's Communist Party, handing the title and de facto leadership of the world's most-populous nation to Mr. Hu, 59.
Mr. Jiang, however, retained his position as head of the Central Military Command and packed an expanded Politburo Standing Committee with his allies.
In the documents, Zeng Qinghong, recently named to take over the daily operations of the Communist Party as head of its secretariat, dismisses Taiwan as little more than a bargaining chip for the United States.
"When the U.S. believes improvement in U.S.-China relations suits its interests, Taiwan becomes unimportant," Mr. Zeng is quoted as saying. "When the U.S. believes the conflict between the two sides is necessary, the Taiwan question is placed on the White House table. The Americans never consider Taiwan's interests, only their own."
In March 2000, voters in the Republic of China (Taiwan) chose Mr. Chen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as president.
The vote ended the 55-year rule of Taiwan by the Nationalist Party, which fled to the island from mainland China in 1949 ahead of advancing communist troops.
While the Taiwanese Nationalists and Chinese Communists rarely saw eye to eye, they agreed on one point Taiwan is part of China.
In contrast, the DPP claims that Taiwan and China are separate countries a position that froze any talk of rapprochement with Beijing following Mr. Chen's election.
With Mr. Chen's term set to expire in 2004, the recent ascension of the "fourth generation" of leaders in Beijing generated little optimism.
"It will take two or three years for the new leaders to consolidate power, and perhaps longer to take control of the military," said Antonio Chiang, deputy secretary-general of Taiwan's National Security Council.
Thus, the policies put in place by Mr. Jiang, who came to power in 1989 after the bloody crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square, are likely to hold for the foreseeable future.
"There is little motivation for a leader to take a creative approach toward Taiwan," said Hsu Sy-ching, an analyst at the Institute for International Relations Research at National Chengchi University. "A new leader can't afford to make a mistake on Taiwan."
That means Beijing will continue to view Taiwan as a renegade province whose 23 million people must eventually be unified with the mainland.
It is unlikely that Mr. Hu will out rule out the use of force as an option to resolve the Taiwan issue.

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