Hu Jintao

Weak response reveals US' true colours: experts

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am

Academic says it must have agreed to scrapping of council

Mainland experts expressed disappointment yesterday at the United States' weak response to Taiwan's scrapping of the National Unification Council.

They also warned that Washington would hurt its own interests by indulging the island's independence movement.

Xu Bodong , director of the Taiwan Institute at Beijing Union University, said that by avoiding criticism of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, Washington had again sent a wrong signal to the island's pro-independence forces and poured cold water on those who opposed independence.

Professor Xu said he was a little surprised because the US altered its attitude when Mr Chen simply changed his wording from 'abolishing' the council to making it 'cease to function', which did not make any difference in Chinese.

'But on the other hand, this did not come as a big surprise as the US has always adopted policies to balance the mainland and Taiwan,' he said. 'It showed once again that China must rely on itself to find a solution to the Taiwan question rather than pinning hopes on the US.'

Professor Xu said it was clear that as long as Washington believed Mr Chen was under its control, the US would continue to support his pro-independence movement so that the mainland and the island's opposition parties would not gain the upper hand.

Ma Zhengang, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said earlier analysis by domestic and international Taiwan experts predicting a tough US response on the sensitive issue had been misleading.

'We cannot expect the US to make strongly worded reactions because Washington will not alter its Taiwan policy because of one single incident,' said Mr Ma, a former ambassador to Britain. 'The US may be truly angry at the island's leader, but it will continue to take Taiwan's interests into consideration and watch his next move.'

Mr Ma said President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to the US, scheduled for next month, would not be affected, while Beijing was guaranteed to exert pressure on Washington to rein in Mr Chen ahead of the trip.

Li Jiaquan, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Washington's 'unbelievable' response showed there must have been an understanding between the US and Taipei before Mr Chen's move. 'It is hardly possible that Chen made the move without Washington's consent,' Professor Li said. During Mr Hu's visit, Beijing should press Washington on specific measures that it planned to take to mend the damage to Sino-US ties, he said.

Professor Li said mainland leaders, well aware of the true colour of Washington's Taiwan policy, which was aimed at using the island to contain Beijing, would not take radical measures such as non-peaceful means to retaliate against Mr Chen.

Both Professor Xu and Professor Li praised Beijing's renewed harsh warning over Mr Chen's actions yesterday as a carefully worded statement.

Professor Xu expected National People's Congress deputies would express their views on the issue during the annual session starting on Sunday, which coincides with the first anniversary of the adoption of the Anti-Secession Law.