Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Panda Diplomacy

The carrot and the stick diplomatic ventures of China continue apace:
China’s central government in Beijing will lift restrictions on mainlanders touring Taiwan, and has offered to scrap tariffs on more than 10 kinds of fruit from Taiwan and allow imports of six more fruit species, in a package of aids to help isle economy.

The offerings, in addition to a pair of giant pandas, were made by Beijing as a gesture of goodwill at the end of a landmark visit by Taiwan Kuomingtang (KMT) leader Lien Chan on Tuesday

When the Chinese want to make nice, they call in the giant pandas. At the same time they use the stick:

China has said it wouldn't talk to Taiwan's president until his ruling party dropped a clause in its party constitution calling for formal independence for the island.

President Chen thinks restating his position will stop events.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian on Tuesday said he would welcome a visit by China's President Hu Jintao, an invitation that appeared to be a conciliatory attempt, though Chen remained steadfast in his pro-independence stance.

"I hope he can come to see for himself whether Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country, and what our 23 million people have in mind," Chen said.

"They said they put their hopes on the Taiwanese people. We will have nothing to hide. We have no stereotypes, no media control," he told reporters in an interview broadcast by CTI cable television.

The fact that Taiwan has invited the communist leadership to visit Taiwan is startling enough news. The fact that the Chinese quickly refused it and set conditions on it is also revealing. Obviously, they feel much stronger about this matter and believe they now hold the upper hand. The American weakness is now so great they can be obvious about their own plans which are moving forward rapidly. All they have to do is put together a coalition in the next election and win it. They will bend all their energy and money in this enterprise. Many carrots will be offered. They understand this is how one wins elections. Just like in America during the last election, eager to buy votes, the candidates running for office never mentioned raising taxes. Bribes do work.

One of the ruling party's greatest concerns is that China will insist Taiwan accept the pandas as a local Chinese government rather than as a self-governing entity.

"If we accept the pandas that means we're admitting ourselves we're a local government," said DPP lawmaker Hsu Kuo-yung.

To panda to the voters? Oh, the mercy!

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