A) "A Strategic Chess Piece That Can Be Given up Anytime"
Professor Chu Yun-han of National Taiwan University's Department of Political Science noted in the "Weekly Comment" column of the centrist, pro-status quo "China Times" (11/15):
". In the National Security Council, President Chen recently delivered a ten-point announcement in an attempt to diffuse the negative effects triggered by his `National Day Address.' Although the Taipei administration tried to play down the striking remarks that Secretary of State Colin Powell made in Beijing, they have sensed the policy adjustment regarding the cross-Strait situation that is being initiated by Washington. President Chen's `ten-point' initiative may clear up international worries that Taiwan might develop weapons of mass destruction and preclude the [possibility] that Beijing may use [these worries] as an excuse for a first strike. However, in the midst of the political and cultural constructions in Taiwan that are aiming for the building of a new nation, these decorative declarations can neither extinguish the anger of Beijing leaders nor relieve the anxiety in Washington.
"Top-level visits to Beijing from Washington have been frequent this year because the Americans are aware that preventive diplomacy as well as preventive defense measures have gradually grown ineffective. Neither the strengthening of the forward military deployment in the West Pacific Region nor the management of seven carrier fleets for real time global exercises can successfully suppress the thought that `a cross-Strait war is unavoidable' in the Beijing leaders' minds. Neither the sending of an envoy to persuade Taipei [to be prudent] nor the expression of disagreement by the U.S president can stop the Taiwanese from testing the bottom line of Beijing's tolerance. Given the development of these trends, the United States will be forced, sooner or later, to choose between the worst scenarios, namely, either to compete with Beijing militarily and engage in an unlimited and unimaginable millennium war, or to force Taipei to sign a treaty in recognition of Beijing's sovereignty over Taiwan and, thus, reduce the leadership credentials in East Asia and [allow the beginning] of a hegemonic transition [in the region].
"Only the two worst options are left for the United States. The reason is that once the People's Liberation Army takes the ASAP strategy to attack Taiwan, the [only] remaining effective option for the United States is militarily intervention due to Taiwan's weak defensive capabilities as well as the fragile domestic psychology and economic infrastructure. Some experts have already made private predictions, after objective analysis, that the only realistic strategic option for the United States is to abandon Taiwan's position of self-determination [in the face of otherwise] unimaginable consequences, unbearable costs and risks that Americans would otherwise confront . .
"It is expected that the decision-making circle in Washington is now very concerned about the cross-Strait situation, and this is not simply because the United States is already too busy handling the difficult situation in Iraq or because it needs to rely on China to help resolve the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The cross-Strait issue will be the greatest diplomatic challenge for President George W. Bush during his second term because once this potential crisis breaks out, it will create the most severe challenge to the United States' strategic leadership in East Asia. If the United States fails to control the situation and is forced to make a choice between the two worst scenarios, it would be practically like making an announcement of a major setback in U.S. foreign policy, and this is something that the current U.S. foreign policy makers would definitely try to avoid. Thus, Washington needs to start taking some preventive measures that it did not want to take before to try every means it can to prevent the cross-Strait situation from getting out of control.
"Secretary Powell's rigid remarks in Beijing that `Taiwan is not independent and it does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation' have reluctantly given away all the ambiguity that the United States hoped to maintain over the past two decades. This means that for the decision makers in Washington, since they could not expect the leaders in Taipei to strictly abide by the `four No's' policy, the United States is then forced to set a clearer and tighter framework for Taipei. The framework is quite obvious as [we] look at Powell's comments together with Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly's policy announcement that `the United States is opposed to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo, a status quo that is defined by the United States.' To put it in plain language, it means that `the status quo as defined by the United States' is `Taiwan is not independent and that it does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation.' If Taiwan tries to use political actions to assure its independence and sovereign status, it would mean it is attempting to alter the status quo defined by the United States. .
". U.S. decision makers have began to sense that the situation's development has forced them to re-evaluate Taiwan's value on a strategic scale. Once the costs and risks to protect Taiwan have evidently outweighed the limits that the United States can sustain, it would have to give up the strategic chess piece [Taiwan] overnight."
B) "Seize the Opportunity for Peace"
The pro-independence, English-language "Taipei Times" editorialized (11/13):
". Taiwan saw Chen [Shui-bian] win a second term in March. In the US, President George W. Bush has also just won a second term, and in China, President Hu Jintao recently consolidated party, government and military power in his hands. In all three nations, power has been confirmed, making this the best time to seek cross-Strait peace.
"The US has already said that Chen's 10-point initiative `lays the foundation' for progress toward resumption of dialogue. But we hope that when Bush and Hu meet in Chile for APEC summit later this month, they will also accept the participation of Taiwan's special envoy Lee Yuan-tseh to engage in three-sided talks over the 10 points, opening up a new opportunity for peace across the Taiwan Strait."