Cablegate: China's "Anti-Secession Law," and U.S.-Taiwan
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 004075
DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/RSP/TC, EAP/PA, EAP/PD -
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: CHINA'S "ANTI-SECESSION LAW," AND U.S.-TAIWAN
A) "The Premises Have Been Destroyed and How Can the
Four Nos Remain Unchanged"
An article in the pro-independence "Liberty Times" said
". China's `anti-secession law,' if correctly expected
by the government, provides the basis to use force
against Taiwan, then the law explicitly challenges the
premises President Chen Shui-bian set for the promises
of `Four Nos and One Will Not.'
"The Taiwan government is forced to face a critical
problem, that is whether President Chen Shui-bian's
promises on `Four Nos and One Will Not' still be
effective in the future?
"To answer the question is extremely difficult for
Taiwan, especially when current U.S-China relations
consistently improve `to the best status for the last
30 years.' Since there are several unexpected
situations in U.S-Taiwan relations, however, the
question would more easily irritate the sensitive
nerves of the United States.
"After all, this is not a question concerning the
fundamental position of cross-Strait relations. If the
grand direction is not ascertained, any repairing or
mending [the cross-Strait relations] will end up with
no rewards. If Taiwan ignores this question, the next
challenge [from China] is the position of Taiwan's
B) " `Anti-Taiwan Independence' Does Not Equal `Anti-
Taiwan'- the Crisis and the Turning Point in the `Anti-
Political Critic Nan Fang-suo said in the centrist, pro-
status quo "China Times" (12/27):
". The purpose [of China] is not to legislate the
`Unification Law,' but to legislate the negative,
passive, and even the defensive `anti-secession law.'
On one hand, to legislate from a negative sense is
technically easier; and on the other hand, the `anti-
secession law' may stimulate the independent faction in
Taiwan, but expresses good will toward the non-
independent faction in Taiwan and by so doing reduces
the negative effect of the legislation to the minimum.
Most important of all, to abandon the `unification law'
and to choose the `anti-secession law' reflects that
other than `anti-independence,' Beijing currently is
not urgent on `promoting unification' since there is no
time table and, thus, there is elasticity toward
"As the degree of internationalization increases,
Beijing knows more and more each day how to utilize the
international environment. In the `anti-secession
law,' Beijing's action has been defined as a kind of
`defense,' instead of `offense.' More critically,
President Chen Shui-bian in the past year made several
moves intended to make use of the disparity that the
United States at the same time asserts `One China' and
upholds the `Taiwan Relations Act.' President Chen
tried to manipulate the `Taiwan Relations Act' in the
hope that the United States will change its `One China'
policy. However, President Chen's intention caused
negative feelings in the United States, and forced
Secretary of State Colin Powell to say `Taiwan is not
an independent sovereign state,' and Deputy Secretary
of State Richard Armitage to say `there is no need to
defend Taiwan,' and `Taiwan is a part of China.' All
of these indicate that China and the United States have
become consistent on the position of `anti-Taiwan
independence.' It is a signal worth noting that China
informed the United States before drafting the `anti-
secession law,' and to some extent China got the
`understanding' from the United States. At the current
stage, the United States' `anti-independence' not only
focused on the perspective of `de-jure Taiwan
independence,' but started to pay attention to
`contextual Taiwan independence' as well. When China
and the United States moved toward the same position of
`anti-Taiwan independence,' the space in which to
manipulate `Taiwan independence' is incrementally
"President Chen Shui-bian has used up the credit that
U.S. diplomacy afforded, and left the United States
with no choice but to stand together with China
regarding the issue of `anti-independence.' In the
past few years the DPP government persistently,
implicitly or explicitly, played the `Taiwan
independence card' and now it is `game over.'
"As to Taiwan independence, however, the situation that
the `Taiwan independence card' leads to a dead end may
be the biggest crisis. Not only does Taiwan
independence lose the legitimacy in the international
community, it also becomes an illegal activity as well.
But the situation is a major turning point for the non-
"Hence, the `anti-secession law' and the statements by
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of
State Richard Armitage may cause the end of Taiwan
independence, but certainly not the end of Taiwan.
"People in Taiwan are not allowed to hate the same
enemy [i.e. China] with the DPP under DPP's dominance.
People in Taiwan should realize with optimism that
whenever Taiwan independence diminishes, that is the
time for the hope of Taiwan to actually start. ."
C) "This Legislation Hands the Hot Potato Back to the
United States; China Will Have More Room for
Manipulation and the Right to Define the `Cross-Strait
Status Quo' Will Be the Target for Bilateral Struggle
in the Future"
Journalist Sun Yang-ming wrote in the conservative, pro-
unification "United Daily News" (12/26):
". The real issue is that once this anti-secession bill
becomes a law, there will be a struggle between
Washington and Beijing over who has the dominant right
to define the so-called `status-quo' in the future.
The basic strategic thinking and attitude of China
toward how to deal with the Taiwan issue has changed.
As a result, which direction Taiwan will be moving and
the issue of independence will become a burden for the
United States. The concept of an anti-secession law
coincides with this [new] attitude.
"The Neo-Conservatives of the Bush administration have
been trying to use Taiwan as a means to delay China's
rise [as a power] and let Taiwan become a burden for
China. However, China is passing back this hot potato
and having the United States accountable for the
consequences should Taiwan cross the red line. This is
why Beijing only wants an `anti-secession law' rather
than a `unification law.'."
D) "Criticizing Chen Shui-bian? Taiwan is not the
problem, but China is"
The pro-independence "Liberty Times" said in its
"The United States is caught in between the democratic
Taiwan and despotic China. China always has used
international negotiation and its domestic market to
threaten the United States for concessions on the issue
of cross-Strait relations. The United States
consequently faces a dilemma in choosing between the
"Theoretically, the United States is a democratic
country, it should enhance its interaction with the
democratic Taiwan and should express the respectfulness
of the basic human rights to the people of Taiwan.
Unfortunately, as leaders
in the United States and Taiwan lack direct
communication, unnecessary misunderstandings have
occurred. Such misunderstanding would be reduced
significantly if the ban on contacts of high-ranking
leaders were lifted. But if [the United States]
continuously lets the `One-China'policy stymie
arbitrarily, the situation could not be improved. This
is the structural problem between the United States and
"Anyway, Taiwan is not the problem, but the China is.
In the past twenty years, the long-term goal of the
international investments to China, including
investment from Taiwan, seeks to promote political
reforms through economic development, and to push China
to fulfill its international obligations. The foreign
capital brings the economic growth [in China], but it
becomes the resources for China to build its military.
In the meantime, China increases its political control
internally, and prepares to use force to solve
international disputes. Furthermore, China is playing
`big nation diplomacy.' By making use of the United
States' needs for cooperation on North Korea, Iraq and
anti-terrorism issues, China manipulates the United
States with `cooperation but faction' strategy. Taiwan
is among the gains from this strategy."
E) "U.S. Support for Taiwan May Not Be a Sure Thing"
Chin Heng-wei commented in the pro-independence "Taipei
". The U.S. true focus is not the Taiwan question but
the threat of China, and Taiwan is merely a landmine
placed between the two giants. It is only when the
situation is looked at in this light that one can
understand the U.S. standpoint on the Taiwan question,
the TRA and U.S.-China-Taiwan relations.
"Naturally, America has the choice of not defending
Taiwan, should it relinquish its interests in the West
Pacific Region. To put it more clearly, if the U.S.
sells the `Taiwan landmine' down the river, and scraps
the TRA, they will be losing the Western Pacific Region
as a sphere of influence. This will be tantamount to
making the same errors they committed 50 years ago, and
creating a monster that they cannot control. ."