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Saturday, March 26, 2005

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > China's Hard Line Stirs Throng in Taiwan

The New York Times > International > Asia Pacific > China's Hard Line Stirs Throng in TaiwanMarch 27, 2005
China's Hard Line Stirs Throng in Taiwan
By KEITH BRADSHER

TAIPEI, Taiwan, March 26 - Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese marched Saturday afternoon to denounce Beijing in one of the largest political demonstrations ever here, the clearest sign yet of how China's antisecession law has poisoned relations across the Taiwan Strait.

The size of the demonstration showed how much the political landscape has changed since the Communist Party-controlled National People's Congress in Beijing approved a law on March 14 calling for the use of "nonpeaceful means" to halt any Taiwanese attempt to declare independence from the mainland. Even some supporters of the opposition Nationalist Party here, which backs closer relations with the mainland, joined the march, although the party's leaders did not.

"In the past, I didn't understand the emerging situation across the Taiwan Strait - it seems that war across the Taiwan Strait will happen at any time," said Sue Rong-yin, 24, a pharmacology student who described herself as a staunch Nationalist Party supporter who had never before joined a political protest.

Politicians and analysts are not nearly as pessimistic about the prospects for conflict. But passage of the antisecession law has brought a halt to the honeymoon that Taiwan and China enjoyed over the winter.

Beijing's official New China News Agency criticized the march before it began, carrying a prominent article on Saturday morning contending that Taiwanese advocates of independence "malevolently distorted" the antisecession law.

Mainland lawyers drafted the law last summer, in response to fears that President Chen Shui-bian might declare independence. But then the Nationalist Party did unexpectedly well in elections in December.

Mr. Chen responded to those elections with overtures to Beijing. Over Chinese New Year in late January and early February, Taiwan and China allowed the first direct flights since the Nationalists came here after losing China's civil war in 1949.

On Feb. 24, Mr. Chen concluded a surprise alliance with the most pro-Beijing party here, prompting a half-dozen of his more strongly pro-independence advisers to quit. The pact helped him increase his influence in the legislature, but polls showed a sharp drop in support for both parties and a steep rise in the number of voters not attracted to any party.

In the demonstration on Saturday, an event that showed the president's talent for political theater, protesters were encouraged to bring pets and children as they marched under light clouds down 10 routes to converge in front of the Presidential Palace. Mr. Chen and his staff wrote a song for the occasion, set to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," with lyrics in the local dialect like, "How many rocky roads must the people of Taiwan walk, before really achieving democracy?"

Mr. Chen joined the march, breaking a tradition of sitting presidents not taking part in political protests.

Even before the rally, some Nationalist Party officials dismissed it as a carnival. Alex Tsai, a senior Nationalist lawmaker, said his party would press on with plans to send a delegation to Beijing on Tuesday. The Nationalists are preparing for their chairman, Lien Chan, to visit the mainland this summer, which would make him the first Nationalist leader to do so since the end of the civil war.

But that strategy carries political risks. Another Nationalist Party supporter in the crowd, Mickey Shi, a 23-year-old student who also had never been to a political demonstration before, said his party's leaders should have joined the march.

"If you think you are a party of the Taiwan people, you should stand up for them," he said.

The New York Times > Washington > Report Expected to Fault Kofi Annan's Role in Oil-for-Food Plan Payments to His Son

The New York Times > Washington > Report Expected to Fault Kofi Annan's Role in Oil-for-Food Plan Payments to His Son

March 26, 2005
Report Expected to Fault Kofi Annan's Role in Oil-for-Food Plan Payments to His Son
By WARREN HOGE and JUDITH MILLER

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 - A report from the commission investigating corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq is likely to criticize Secretary General Kofi Annan for failing to perceive the appearance of a conflict of interest posed by his son's employment by a program contractor. It will also say that the son, Kojo Annan, received more than twice the compensation the company had long acknowledged.

According to an investigator and another person who has read the current draft, the report will fault both Mr. Annan for his management practices and his son, who it will say was paid nearly $400,000 between 1996 and 2004 by Cotecna Inspection Services, the Swiss-based company that had a contract to monitor the humanitarian goods that Iraq bought under the $65 billion program.

The report, from the investigative commission led by Paul A. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is to be made public Tuesday.

Any conclusions by the commission that Secretary General Annan bears responsibility for the actions of his son will come as a setback for the beleaguered secretary general. He has continually maintained that he knew little about his son's activities and that he was "disappointed" that his son misinformed him.

"We still believe that the secretary general will be cleared of any wrongdoing," Mark Malloch Brown, the United Nations chief of staff, said in a telephone interview on Friday. "The fact is that Kojo has confirmed that he misled his father, and a father cannot be held accountable for the deeds of an adult son that the son has not told his father about."

The $400,000 figure and the Volcker commission's expected findings about Mr. Annan and his son first appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The commission has not uncovered any evidence that Mr. Annan benefited financially or intervened in any way to influence selection of contractors in the oil-for-food program. But one investigator said the report faulted Mr. Annan for failing to be sensitive to the perception of nepotism and conflict of interest that inevitably arose from his son's involvement with a United Nations contractor.

"The report will explore in some detail not only Kojo Annan's relationship with Cotecna, but also his relationship with his father," said a person familiar with the document's content. "It will not be pleasant reading for them."

The report will add to the atmosphere of crisis that is buffeting the United Nations at a moment when it is making senior staff changes and proposing structural and management reforms intended to forestall a recurrence of the kinds of abuses that have drawn the critical attention of five Congressional committees as well as calls for Mr. Annan to step down before his term is completed at the end of 2006.

On Monday, Mr. Annan made public a wide-ranging set of changes, including a reconstitution of the Security Council and the restructuring of the Human Rights Commission, which has brought repeated discredit on the United Nations by letting major rights violators become members. On Thursday, a confessional United Nations report proposed a thorough overhaul of the peacekeeping operation, which has been shamed by instances of rape and sexual abuse of minors by blue-helmeted United Nations troops.

But attention has already shifted back to the institution's oil-for-food problems and in particular Mr. Annan's job security in light of his son's activities.

Asked about the higher compensation figure for Kojo Annan, Seth Goldschlager, a spokesman for Cotecna, said in an interview Friday that the company had told the Volcker commission that it paid him at least $366,000 and possibly as much as $400,000 during the 1996 to 2004 period in which he received payments. The amount included payments for health care and to ensure that he not work for competitors after he formally left Cotecna in 1998.

Mr. Goldschlager said the new total was provided to investigators after The Financial Times and Il Sole Ore 24 of Milan jointly reported Wednesday that Kojo Annan had been paid at least $300,000, not just the $175,000 that had been previously disclosed. Mr. Goldschlager said Cotecna was still uncertain exactly how much Mr. Annan had been paid and that as a result of negotiations with the Volcker panel, the company was conducting a new audit of all payments to him.

Congressional investigators have complained that Cotecna has disclosed the widening scope of its dealings with Kojo Annan only after being prodded by news reports and has not fully explained payments made through third parties.

Mr. Goldschlager said Friday that these payments had been made at Kojo Annan's request, but he could not explain why Cotecna had agreed to an arrangement that appeared to disguise the company's involvement.

Echoing previous statements by other Cotecna representatives, Mr. Goldschlager said the continuing payments to Mr. Annan after he left the company were not illegal or inappropriate. He also denied allegations that Cotecna had hired and continued paying Kojo Annan after he left the company to maintain his father's good will or retain its contract.

He said Mr. Annan was paid for his work on behalf of Cotecna in Africa, none of which, he asserted, was related to the oil-for-food program. The noncompetition payments were consistent with what is standard practice in the industry, he added.

Kojo Annan worked for Cotecna from December 1995 until departing at the end of 1998, just as the company gained its oil-for-food contract. As the oil-for-food scandal unfolded, United Nations spokesmen deflected questions about any conflict posed by young Mr. Annan's job by noting that all his work was done in Africa, distant from Iraq, and that he had severed ties with Cotecna at the time it became an oil-for-food contractor.

Subsequent disclosures revealed that Kojo Annan continued receiving payments until February 2004 and that he had attended United Nations-connected meetings in New York and Durban, South Africa. In December 2004 the senior Mr. Annan said that although he and his son had discussed the relationship with Cotecna, he was "disappointed" that he had apparently not been told the full story.

Tuesday's report will be Mr. Volcker's second interim report, with the final accounting due this summer. In its first interim report, on Feb. 4, the commission found that the former head of the program, Benon V. Sevan, had a "grave and continuing conflict of interest" in helping a friend obtain valuable Iraqi oil contracts and said a second United Nations official, Joseph Stephanides, had violated procurement rules. Both men have been suspended and are in the process of answering United Nations charges against them.

Japan Today - News - Bush's approval rating drops to all-time low 45% - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Bush's approval rating drops to all-time low 45% - Japan's Leading International News Network: "

japantoday > world
Bush's approval rating drops to all-time low 45%

Saturday, March 26, 2005 at 09:03 JST
NEW YORK — President George W. Bush's approval rating has dropped to a record low 45 percent this week, down from 52 percent last week, according to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll.

It is the lowest figure since Bush took office in 2001, falling below the previous low of 46 percent in May last year. (Kyodo News)
"

Friday, March 25, 2005

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion: March 26, 2005
Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion
By STEVEN ERLANGER

JERUSALEM, March 25 - The United States' displeasure with Israel's intention to expand a West Bank settlement grew Friday, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemning the plan as "at odds with American policy."

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Ms. Rice said the Israeli response to American concerns was "not really a satisfactory response."

Israeli officials say the announcement about adding 3,500 homes to Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, is just a bureaucratic step, and point out that the houses will not be built for a few years. But Palestinian officials have complained that the Israeli intention is to cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank and destroy the contiguity of any future Palestinian state, and they reject any Israeli or American efforts to predetermine the outcome of negotiations.

The ambiguities surrounding American policy were underlined Friday when a diplomatic furor erupted over remarks reportedly made by the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel C. Kurtzer, in an off-the-record session nearly a month ago with new Israeli Foreign Ministry employees.

According to the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, which was leaked a copy of notes taken at the meeting, Mr. Kurtzer said Washington had never reached an understanding with Israel that would let it keep its large settlement blocks in the West Bank. The newspaper also quoted him as saying he expected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government to fall before completing its term in November 2006.

Mr. Kurtzer angrily denied the Yediot story on Friday, saying he was misquoted and misunderstood. "What I tried to explain to them is exactly what U.S. policy is," he told Israeli radio and television on Friday. "And U.S. policy is the support that the president has given for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centers as an outcome of negotiations."

Mr. Sharon's office said it believed that Mr. Kurtzer had been misquoted.

American officials said they believed that the leak was an effort by the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, to boost his standing in Mr. Sharon's right-wing Likud Party and undermine him just before a crucial budget vote next week that could bring down the government.

A senior Sharon adviser said the leak was intended to undermine an important political accomplishment: understandings on the settlements that Mr. Sharon reached with President Bush last April.

Mr. Sharon has justified his plan to pull all 21 Israeli settlements out of Gaza (as well as four small ones on the West Bank) to his own party on the basis of his belief that Washington will support Israel's intention to keep its main settlement blocks around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

One key Likud member, Education Minister Limor Livnat, said Friday that she would not have agreed to support the Gaza withdrawal plan in the absence of Mr. Bush's commitments. Arye Eldad, a legislator from the right-wing National Union, said that "the prime minister's great fraud has been uncovered; Israel is not getting a thing in exchange for the transfer" of the Gaza settlers.

Diplomatic ambiguities are becoming more exposed, officials from both countries conceded. Washington has agreed that Israel can keep major population centers in the West Bank, presumably like Maale Adumim, and yet also insists that Israel do nothing to "prejudice the rights of other parties or the outcome of final-status negotiations" with the Palestinians.

Mr. Sharon, for his part, prefers to emphasize the first part and play down the second. And no matter how annoyed Washington may be, the Americans do not want Mr. Sharon's government to fall and his Gaza plan to fail.

Mr. Sharon has promised Mr. Bush, in the peace plan called the road map, to dismantle illegal outposts erected by settlers after March 2001 and to freeze settlement construction and expansion. But the Israelis also say they have tacit understandings with Mr. Bush that a settlement freeze would allow for "natural growth" of the existing population and new building within the existing boundaries of settlements.

American officials do not officially confirm such understandings, but even if they exist, the proposed new housing in Maale Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank, with about 30,000 people, would not represent merely "natural growth." The Israeli announcement "embarrassed the Americans," an Israeli official conceded, one reason why Ms. Rice reacted so strongly.

Washington is also eager to support the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, whose own position is undermined by the Israeli announcement. "What was acceptable to the Americans under Yasir Arafat is not acceptable today," the official said.

In a letter last April 14, Mr. Bush acknowledged that a final peace deal with the Palestinians would not be made on the basis of Israel's 1967 boundaries, but would reflect the "new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers."

For Israel, one key reality is Maale Adumim, which looks like a Jerusalem suburb and which no Israeli government is likely to be willing to negotiate away. But Washington has never been willing to identify what it means by "demographic realities," let alone give its approval to specific settlements.

Speaking for the European Union, its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Friday that the Israeli plan to expand Maale Adumim "runs counter to the commitment by parties involved to abstain from any unilateral action that could affect a final solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, said: "The United States can't decide on behalf of the Palestinians and can't decide final-status negotiation issues by itself. We urge the United States to have Israel stop settlement activity."

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion: March 26, 2005
Rice Says U.S. Opposes Israeli Plan for Settlement Expansion
By STEVEN ERLANGER

JERUSALEM, March 25 - The United States' displeasure with Israel's intention to expand a West Bank settlement grew Friday, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemning the plan as "at odds with American policy."

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Ms. Rice said the Israeli response to American concerns was "not really a satisfactory response."

Israeli officials say the announcement about adding 3,500 homes to Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, is just a bureaucratic step, and point out that the houses will not be built for a few years. But Palestinian officials have complained that the Israeli intention is to cut off Jerusalem from the West Bank and destroy the contiguity of any future Palestinian state, and they reject any Israeli or American efforts to predetermine the outcome of negotiations.

The ambiguities surrounding American policy were underlined Friday when a diplomatic furor erupted over remarks reportedly made by the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel C. Kurtzer, in an off-the-record session nearly a month ago with new Israeli Foreign Ministry employees.

According to the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, which was leaked a copy of notes taken at the meeting, Mr. Kurtzer said Washington had never reached an understanding with Israel that would let it keep its large settlement blocks in the West Bank. The newspaper also quoted him as saying he expected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government to fall before completing its term in November 2006.

Mr. Kurtzer angrily denied the Yediot story on Friday, saying he was misquoted and misunderstood. "What I tried to explain to them is exactly what U.S. policy is," he told Israeli radio and television on Friday. "And U.S. policy is the support that the president has given for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centers as an outcome of negotiations."

Mr. Sharon's office said it believed that Mr. Kurtzer had been misquoted.

American officials said they believed that the leak was an effort by the foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, to boost his standing in Mr. Sharon's right-wing Likud Party and undermine him just before a crucial budget vote next week that could bring down the government.

A senior Sharon adviser said the leak was intended to undermine an important political accomplishment: understandings on the settlements that Mr. Sharon reached with President Bush last April.

Mr. Sharon has justified his plan to pull all 21 Israeli settlements out of Gaza (as well as four small ones on the West Bank) to his own party on the basis of his belief that Washington will support Israel's intention to keep its main settlement blocks around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

One key Likud member, Education Minister Limor Livnat, said Friday that she would not have agreed to support the Gaza withdrawal plan in the absence of Mr. Bush's commitments. Arye Eldad, a legislator from the right-wing National Union, said that "the prime minister's great fraud has been uncovered; Israel is not getting a thing in exchange for the transfer" of the Gaza settlers.

Diplomatic ambiguities are becoming more exposed, officials from both countries conceded. Washington has agreed that Israel can keep major population centers in the West Bank, presumably like Maale Adumim, and yet also insists that Israel do nothing to "prejudice the rights of other parties or the outcome of final-status negotiations" with the Palestinians.

Mr. Sharon, for his part, prefers to emphasize the first part and play down the second. And no matter how annoyed Washington may be, the Americans do not want Mr. Sharon's government to fall and his Gaza plan to fail.

Mr. Sharon has promised Mr. Bush, in the peace plan called the road map, to dismantle illegal outposts erected by settlers after March 2001 and to freeze settlement construction and expansion. But the Israelis also say they have tacit understandings with Mr. Bush that a settlement freeze would allow for "natural growth" of the existing population and new building within the existing boundaries of settlements.

American officials do not officially confirm such understandings, but even if they exist, the proposed new housing in Maale Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank, with about 30,000 people, would not represent merely "natural growth." The Israeli announcement "embarrassed the Americans," an Israeli official conceded, one reason why Ms. Rice reacted so strongly.

Washington is also eager to support the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, whose own position is undermined by the Israeli announcement. "What was acceptable to the Americans under Yasir Arafat is not acceptable today," the official said.

In a letter last April 14, Mr. Bush acknowledged that a final peace deal with the Palestinians would not be made on the basis of Israel's 1967 boundaries, but would reflect the "new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers."

For Israel, one key reality is Maale Adumim, which looks like a Jerusalem suburb and which no Israeli government is likely to be willing to negotiate away. But Washington has never been willing to identify what it means by "demographic realities," let alone give its approval to specific settlements.

Speaking for the European Union, its foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Friday that the Israeli plan to expand Maale Adumim "runs counter to the commitment by parties involved to abstain from any unilateral action that could affect a final solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, said: "The United States can't decide on behalf of the Palestinians and can't decide final-status negotiation issues by itself. We urge the United States to have Israel stop settlement activity."

CBS 46 Atlanta - Gwinnett County school closed after racial threat

CBS Duluth
Gwinnett County school closed after racial threat
Mar 25, 2005, 9:24 AM

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- Some students at Duluth High School in Gwinnett County got a four-day weekend after officials found a bomb threat scrawled on the wall in one of the boys' restrooms.

The threat contained a racial slur and said black students would die.

Some students who learned about the threat the day before skipped school yesterday. About 20 percent of the school's 19-hundred students were absent.

There is NO school Friday in the entire system, which had scheduled Good Friday off.

Neither police nor school administrators found any bomb materials or suspicious activity.

Some officials suspected the threat might have been a prank done by students who wanted a four-day weekend.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan to rally against China law

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan to rally against China law

Taiwan to rally against China law
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Taipei

Senior politicians in Taiwan have urged their people to join a protest against China's anti-secession law passed earlier this month.

The law allows China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, to use what it calls non-peaceful means against any move by Taiwan towards independence.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the protest on Saturday.

The island's government has been heartened by broad international criticism of China's new legislation.

Joseph Wu, who heads Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the body responsible for the island's dealings with China, says it is an attempt to remind the rest of the world that Taiwan feels it is under threat.


TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

"We also want to show to the Chinese side that we are angry over the Chinese action and we want to let the Chinese side know that the law has dealt a severe blow to the prospect of peaceful negotiations in between Taiwan and China," Mr Wu said.

Senior government officials in Taiwan reject criticism that the protest might inflame tensions with China.

They argue that relations have already been damaged by the new law and that what is needed now is an olive branch from Beijing.

Some analysts say the march is a clever move by the Taiwanese government to focus the efforts of its more radical pro-independence supporters on street protests rather than on drawing up new anti-China legislation which might, in the long term, cause more damage to cross-straits relations.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/4382971.stm

washingtonpost.com: China's Law On Taiwan Backfires

washingtonpost.com: China's Law On Taiwan Backfires: "washingtonpost.com
washingtonpost.com
China's Law On Taiwan Backfires
Anti-Secession Measure Hurts Efforts Abroad

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A13

BEIJING, March 23 -- China has paid a price abroad for enacting its controversial anti-secession law, spoiling a strategy for relations with Taiwan, undercutting a drive to end Europe's arms embargo and reinforcing unease over the growth in Chinese military power.

Although the law did little more than codify long-standing policy, Taiwan and countries around the world have focused on the vow to use "non-peaceful means" to prevent Taiwanese independence. In the 10 days since the legislation passed, this focus has emphasized the image of a China willing to risk war across the Taiwan Strait, frustrating Chinese diplomatic efforts to depict the nation's rise as non-threatening.

In pushing forward with the law, President Hu Jintao and his government were weighing domestic considerations as well as foreign policy. Hu, who analysts say is still solidifying his power, was eager to be seen at home as a tough leader on the emotionally charged Taiwan issue. Work on the law began last fall, they noted, as Hu was taking over as military leader from former president Jiang Zemin.

Hu and other leaders have portrayed the new law as a needed check on Taiwan's independence activists -- including President Chen Shui-bian. Without the law to brake him, officials have said, Chen could take one step too many, producing a military conflict nobody wants.

When China began talking about the law last fall, the analysts recalled, Chen was announcing plans to make several changes regarded here as highly provocative. They included changing the name of state-owned enterprises to emphasize "Taiwan" instead of "Republic of China" and inserting the name "Taiwan" in official correspondence from the Foreign Ministry.

Against that background, the Chinese government professed surprise at the degree of negative international reaction to the law during meetings Sunday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, according to sources with knowledge of the talks. The State Department publicly criticized the law as unhelpful. While in Beijing, the sources said, Rice urged leaders to take conciliatory steps to improve the atmosphere soured by the new legislation.

President Bush and other U.S. leaders already were warning that China's fast-paced military modernization risked tipping the balance of power around Taiwan, putting the United States at greater peril if it intervened to defend the self-governing island. With the anti-secession law's threat of military force, those warnings gained urgency; they were repeated several times by Rice during her Asian tour.

Maintaining smooth relations with the United States has become a pillar of China's diplomacy. But the anti-secession law, by feeding the fears of those in Washington who see China as a military adversary, seemed to push relations in the opposite direction.

The threat of force undermined a similar campaign to portray China in neighboring Asian countries as a reliable neighbor whose peaceful rise is not to be feared. This effort, underway for several years, has gained wide acceptance, particularly in Southeast Asia, as China's booming economy and expanding trade give it greater influence in the region.

The image of a peacefully growing nation also was important in China's drive to gain a lifting of Europe's arms embargo. The Beijing government seemed to be on the verge of success despite U.S. opposition. But since the Taiwan law passed March 14, the atmosphere has changed: U.S. arguments have gained new force, and the consensus in Europe for lifting the ban has unraveled.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said Tuesday that there should be no connection between the new law and the European arms embargo. But in European capitals, the link was already made.

The new law also clouded what had been a period of improving atmospherics between China and Taiwan, putting off indefinitely several proposals for better airline and commercial links.

Since a setback in Dec. 11 legislative elections, Chen had played down his most confrontational plans, including the name change for state enterprises. China and Taiwan then agreed on direct charter flights for Chinese New Year visits last month, and China had proposed talks about more flights this spring.

A Taiwan specialist in Beijing who was involved in drafting the anti-secession law said Hu's government had concluded from the Dec. 11 election results that many Taiwanese, even those who may support independence, were tiring of Chen's confrontational style, fearful that it could lead to war. As a result, he said, the government decided to cultivate a friendly image on the island, proposing direct cargo flights to help Taiwan's businesses and increased fruit and vegetable imports to help Taiwanese farms.

But the anti-secession law was working its way through the bureaucracy.

Since its passage, Taiwan has halted action on the initiatives, which Chen qualified as "petty" in the face of what his Democratic Progressive Party called a trigger for war in the new law. Chen's group also has announced plans for a million-man march Saturday to dramatize Taiwanese anger at the law. Opinion polls on the island, meanwhile, indicate increased support for the president's views.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Entertainment.News.Designerz.com > Taiwanese embrace China's culture despite political rift

: Taiwanese embrace China's culture despite political rift: )
News
TAIPEI (AFP)
Saturday March 19, 2005

Political relations between Taiwan Taiwan and China are in decline, but culturally the two are forging closer links with mainland Chinese books following the success of its television dramas and pop music on the island.

The Shanghai Bookstore opened in Taipei last month selling mainland books, which until two years ago were banned in Taiwan Taiwan, and moved 10,000 copies in the first 10 days, surprising even its owners.

Channelnewsasia.com > Clinton calls for further Taiwan-China ties

Channelnewsasia.com: "Clinton calls for further Taiwan-China ties

TAIPEI : Former US president Bill Clinton said Taiwan and China should build on goodwill generated by the first cross-strait flights in 55 years to foster a peaceful resolution to their disputes.


In an interview with local Eastern cable television network shortly before his departure, Clinton said he was encouraged by the recent developments between the island and the Chinese mainland.

"When you worked out the last charter flights (to and from China), you've shared responsibilities to allow people to come home for the Chinese New Year to Taiwan," Clinton said.

The two rivals launched three weeks of direct flights for the first time since they split in 1949 to transport Taiwanese businesspeople home over the Chinese Lunar New Year period.

Taipei had previously banned direct transport links with the mainland, only allowing exchanges with stops in third ports, conscious of Beijing's threat to invade if the island moves towards independence.

"What I think should be done is that you should build on the positive context," Clinton said.

"To leap from economic integration to inter-dependence, you have to have sharing. You have to share responsibilities. You have to share opportunities. And you have to share the value that what you have in common is more important than your differences."

Despite Clinton's efforts to promote peace in the area, the Taiwan visit, coming on the heels of his trip to the mainland to promote AIDS awareness, irritated China.

Beijing said Clinton should honour past US promises on the Taiwan question -- such as abiding by the one-China policy, under which Beijing regards Taiwan as part of China, and opposing the island's independence.

Clinton denied his visit marked any policy shift.

"I sincerely stand by the one-China policy ... I sincerely hope to see peace in the Taiwan Strait. At the same time I urge them both to solve their disputes peacefully," he said in an interview in Tokyo.

Taiwan and China have been governed separately since they split in 1949 after a civil war. But China still sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

China views President Chen Shui-bian as a dangerous "splittist" who is heading down the road towards formal independence -- a move that it would see as an act of war.

But in his latest peace overture to Beijing, Chen held reconciliation talks with a Taiwan opposition leader Thursday last week and reaffirmed a promise not to push for independence.

Chen also promised in his meeting with James Soong, chairman of the People First Party, to seek ways to normalize relations with China to promote cross-strait peace.

Clinton flew to Taipei Sunday and met with Chen after giving a public speech.

On Monday, Clinton met Chen again and opposition leader Lien Chan. He also signed copies of his autobiography "My Life" at Taipei 101, the world's tallest building, before he left for Singapore. - AFP