- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Three scholars from Taiwan on a visit to Washington agreed yesterday that the Chinese communist government's softer tone in recent days has "not changed one iota" the drive by Beijing to isolate Taiwan internationally.
They also praised President Bush for his relaxation of restrictions on Taiwan in its dealing with the United States, in particular allowing Taiwan's leaders more openness in visiting here and in contacts with their governmental counterparts.
Commenting on the leadership change announced on mainland China yesterday, they characterized the new Communist Party chief Hu Jintao as an "unproven leader" who has spent much of his political life in the Chinese hinterland and has had few contacts with the international community.
"Beijing's goal, despite its nonconfrontational approach to the United States and the Republic of China as well, remains the 'one country-two systems formula,' which would reduce Taiwan to a dependent province," said Joanne Chang, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies in Taiwan. The Republic of China is Taiwan's official name.
She and two colleagues, David Hong and Lin Wen-cheng, spoke with editors and reporters during a luncheon at The Washington Times yesterday.
Mr. Hong, vice president of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said China's emphasis on accommodation is a "trick to lull the unsuspecting into believing that there has been substantive change."
Mr. Lin, director of the Institute of Mainland China Studies, added: "China for the moment is preoccupied with stability and not seeking a confrontation. We certainly are not seeking to provoke one."
Despite President Bush's support for Taiwan, there is concern there that the United States may give the island short shrift as it seeks China's help with the worldwide war on terror and with the showdown with Iraq.
Last week Stratfor, a private intelligence service, noted that "Taiwan is showing heightened concern about Chinese intentions. Washington needs Beijing's cooperation in the United Nations, and the Taiwanese government, faced with economic troubles at home, sees itself as being left out in the cold."
The policy of Taiwan is to seek an ever-broadening circle of contacts internationally, which would produce its greater participation as a member of sundry U.N.-affiliated agencies, more formal visits to the United States and other Western nations and re-entry into the United Nations.
For China, this policy, introduced in the 1990s by then-Taiwanese leader Lee Teng-hui, produced repeated confrontation with Beijing and led to a near-collision between Beijing and Washington in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian has said repeatedly that he is willing to resume the suspended dialogue with China on any and all matters but will not accept the "one-China principle as a precondition."
"That principle will immediately reduce Taiwan to a local dependency of Beijing," Mrs. Chang said.


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