Beijing 'worried' over Kosovo

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 February, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing expressed 'deep concern' yesterday over Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence and poured scorn on Taipei's desire to recognise Kosovo's new status.

'The resolution of the Kosovo problem concerns peace and stability in the Balkans region, the basic rules of international relations, and the authority and function of the United Nations Security Council,' Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Liu Jianchao said.

Mr Liu said China was 'deeply worried' about possible negative consequences of the unilateral act, and urged that efforts be made to reach a solution through continued negotiations, with the 'international community to create positive conditions' for this to happen.

The US and major European powers have recognised Kosovo's independence. Yesterday, US President George W. Bush said the 'Kosavars are now independent', while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said a 1999 Security Council resolution that authorised the UN to administer the territory remained in force and the UN 'will continue to implement its mandate in the light of the evolving circumstances'.

Taiwanese authorities swiftly announced their approval of Kosovo's decision and said the island would recognise Kosovo's independence.

'In no way should the independence of one nation be denied by another,' the island's foreign ministry said. 'Self-determination is a right recognised by the United Nations, and it is the people who are masters of their nation's future.'

Mr Liu challenged Taipei's stance, saying: 'Taiwan is part of China, and has no right or qualification to give the so-called 'recognition'.'

Beijing's relatively calm response, short of the outright objection expressed by Moscow, surprised some observers, given the tension over Taiwan's status; others said the response was carefully calibrated and allowed Beijing to react to future developments with more flexibility.

Most mainland experts were reluctant to discuss the likely impact of Kosovo's decision on the Taiwan situation, deeming the issue too sensitive to be commented on publicly.

Feng Zhongping , director of European studies at the China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, said he believed Kosovo's act set a bad precedent.

'If a unilateral declaration of independence becomes successful, despite the objection of its sovereign state, this would have a negative impact on stability of the international community,' Professor Feng said.

Philip Yang Yung-ming, director of the Taiwan Security Research Centre, said Taiwan's situation was totally different from that of Kosovo. 'Unlike Kosovo, which has support from the US and other western powers, Taiwan lacks the necessary backing, and a declaration of independence would cost too high a price.'