In a peculiar time warp, at the end of February 2002 there was a dark flashback to the early 1970s when Mr. Kissinger tried to trade away the future of Taiwan without any involvement, representation, or consent of the people of the island.
On 27 February 2002, the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington DC release the transcripts of former US national security adviser Henry Kissinger's secret visit to Beijing in 1971 to arrange the summit which eventually led to normalization of US relations with China. The transcripts include the transcript of the meeting on 9-11 July 1971, in which Mr. Kissinger, extensively discussed Taiwan with his Chinese counterparts. The transcripts are available at the National Security Archive at the website of GWU at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB66/
According to the New York Times ("Records dispute Kissinger on his `71 Visit to China", NYTimes, 28 February 2002) the account of the meeting in the newly released documents contradicts the one that Mr. Kissinger published in his later memoirs. In his "The White House Years," published in 1979, he had written that Taiwan "was only mentioned briefly" during the crucial meeting. From these transcripts we now learn that it was a major issue.
During that meeting, Kissinger spent 17 hours in negotiations with then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai from July 9 to July 11, 1971, hammering out details of the Nixon trip and drafting the Shanghai Communiqué. With his willful disregard for the position of the native Taiwanese he laid the seeds for the sheer insurmountable problems which plagued US-Taiwan-China relations over the ensuing three decades.
The records show Kissinger and Zhou discussing Taiwan's future without any consideration of the views of the people of Taiwan, while Nixon and Kissinger worked hard to make sure their decisions on Taiwan were kept a secret. They also show that Nixon wanted Kissinger to play down the Taiwan issue during the Zhou meetings, but that Kissinger decided to deal with the issue at length. In fact, the transcript shows a prolonged and detailed discussion of Taiwan, which covered nine of the 45 transcript pages.
In that first meeting, Kissinger volunteered that the US would not support the Taiwan independence movement, would not accept a "two China" or "one China-one Taiwan" policy and would recognize Taiwan as an "inalienable part" of China. He also indicated the US wanted to fully recognize China sometime within the first two years of Nixon's second term in office.
In the transcripts, both Kissinger and Zhou agreed that the relations with the Kuomintang regime on Taiwan were linked to the war in Vietnam. The US was seeking China's help in ending the war in exchange for Washington's switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
They also worked out a deal on how Beijing would replace the Kuomintang's seat in the UN Washington would withdraw its position that the question is an important one, allowing China to be voted into the world body by a simple majority vote. Taipei would be voted out by a two-thirds vote "as soon as you can get the two-thirds vote for expulsion," Kissinger told Zhou. While Washington would complain loudly about the Taiwan ouster, which its UN envoy George Bush did at the time, it would tacitly accept the switch.
Taiwan Communiqué comment: These transcripts show that in his eagerness to get China's help in ending the Vietnam War _ which didn't materialize _ Mr. Kissinger tried to trade away something that wasn't his to give away: Taiwan's future as a free, democratic and independent country.
While Taiwan had been under the repressive Kuomintang regime which fled China in the late 1940s, but maintained its claim to sovereignty over China _ the official international legal position was that Taiwan's future status was still to be determined under the provisions of the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty.
Mr. Kissinger's shady dealings and lack of forthrightness in 1971 contributed to the subsequent international isolation of Taiwan in the international community. It gave rise to the "One China" fiction and perception that somehow China's claim to sovereignty over Taiwan was justified. In fact, the PRC never ruled Taiwan for one day, while the island was a province of Imperial China for only eight years, from 1887 through 1895.
Still, it isn't too late for the international community to right the wrongs of the 1970s. Since the early 1980s, the people of Taiwan have worked hard to turn their island into a showcase of economic development and democracy. It is time for the international community to show its recognition of these achievements by accepting Taiwan as a full and equal member.
During the past two months, there were also signs that Taiwan's relations with Europe are warming, albeit at a more modest scale and pace than with the US. In mid-March 2002, the European Parliament adopted a resolution backing Taiwan's participation in the WHO, while in mid-April 2002, the Parliament included a highly important reference to "the popular will of the people of Taiwan" in a resolution supporting a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue.
On 14 March 2002, the 626-member European Parliament in Strassbourg passed a resolution backing Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization at the upcoming World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting slated for 14-22 May 2002 in Geneva.
"This is a very important cornerstone," Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien said of the passage of the resolution. "Although the resolution is non-binding, it however represents the strong public opinion endorsing our bid." Chien said he hopes the resolution would help smooth Taiwan's related lobbies in individual EU member states. It was the first time for the European Parliament, one of the three major pillars of the EU, to pass a resolution specifically endorsing Taiwan's bid to obtain an observer status in the WHO. The resolution also calls on the European Commission, the executive body of the EU and EU member states to support that the application for observer status be granted to Taiwan at the upcoming assembly.
The annual campaign to join the WHO was started in 1997 at the urging of the DPP _ still in the opposition at that time. From 1997 through 2000 the Kuomintang authorities put in a half-hearted campaign, which expectedly resulted in a rejection due to Chinese pressure. However, since coming to power in May 2000, the administration of President Chen Shui-bian has put the country's WHO bid high on its political agenda, with a cross-ministerial task force handling the issue.
During the main WHO executive board meeting in January 2002, Guatemala, Chad and Grenada three of Taiwan's 28 diplomatic allies and members of the 32-member WHO Executive Board submitted the motion on behalf of Taipei to put Taiwan's observer status on the provisional agenda for the WHA in May.
Although the executive board decided not to discussing the issue, the matter can still be put on the agenda of the WHA
at the urging of Taiwan's allies. To gain observer status, Taiwan needs the support of at least half the body's 191 members. The WHO has given observer status to the Vatican, Liechtenstein, the Palestinian Authority and the International Red Cross.
On 11 April 2002, the European Parliament adopted a resolution supporting a peaceful resolution of the cross-strait issue, which included a highly important reference to "the popular will of the people of Taiwan" in resolving the differences across the Taiwan Strait. This marks the first time that Western Europe has endorsed the consent of the people of Taiwan in resolving the island's future.
The resolution was in response to the EU Commission "communication on an EU strategy toward China: Implementation of the 1998 Communication and Future Steps for a more Effective EU Policy." It stated specifically that "The will and approval of the 23 million people in Taiwan must be respected and accounted for in the light of a hopefully peaceful solution between the parties."
The resolution stressed that "any arrangement between China and Taiwan can only be achieved on a mutually acceptable basis," while the process leading up to the solution requires both the "willingness to demonstrate flexibility ... and the capacity to be imaginative in proposing steps to resume dialogue." The resolution called for "a peaceful resolution" of the cross-strait dispute through "negotiation, dialogue and confidence-building measures without any threat of force."
The parliament in the resolution reiterated its support for Taiwan's participation in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and urged the European Commission not to delay setting up a representative office in Taipei.
Finally, the resolution called for the EU member states to issue visas to Taiwan's high-ranking officials for private visits to the EU. This follows the refusal of France and Denmark last November to grant visas for President Chen Shui-bian to visit Europe to receive the Liberal International Freedom Award.
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