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Vice Premier Rong-i Wu's opening speech at the international conference on "The Rise of China: challenges and opportunities."

  • Date:2005-09-28

President Tien, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is my great honor to be invited to speak at the international conference on “The Rise of China: challenges and opportunities” held by the Institute for National Policy Research and the Mainland Affairs Council of the Executive Yuan. On behalf of the Executive Yuan, I offer my sincerest welcome to all the scholars and experts here today. The Taiwan Strait situation and the cross-strait relations that accompany it have become the topic of international concern in recent years. China’s rise as well as changes in international politics, military and economical imbalances are important factors affecting the stability of the Taiwan Strait and its surrounding regions. "The rise of China" is indeed a serious topic which Taiwan and the whole world have to face together today. The concept of “the rise of China" originated from China’s open reform policy. With its economy developing gradually, the international community has formed certain degree of expectation for this giant Chinese market. But as China’s ambition and expansion in international politics and military continued to increase, the international community can no longer interpret the concept of "the rise of China" with purely economic appraisal and anticipation. This underlines the international community’s concern over “the rise of China’s” negative impact on the maintenance of global and regional order. The Chinese authorities have attempted to disguise their intentions by using expressions such as "peaceful rise" and "peace and development," to subside external skepticisms. China’s vast economic market has allowed it to continually expand its military strength, but at the same time, its core political control is seemingly unstable. The result is increased internal social and economic disorder, as well as increased competition for global resources. All these factors have led other countries to take a more cautious attitude when facing China’s rapid development and dealing with the Chinese authorities. Thus, it is necessary to take balanced actions, focus on international security and consider regional influence and balanced development. In recent years, China’s national defense budget has increased by double-digit percentages annually. This large scale military expansion has already set off alarms in the United States, Japan and counties in the region. In July, the U.S. Department of Defense explicitly pointed out that the growth of China’s military force has already shifted military balance in the Taiwan Strait towards China. This has a direct effect on the region’s security and stability. Recently, China has made several strong statements and held large-scale military demonstrations. These actions have already led many to be concerned about China’s ability to threaten regional peace and stability. The term "the rise of China" has therefore become synonymous with the term "the Chinese threat." From an economic perspective, China’s rise can no longer be viewed as simply a market of economic opportunities. Quite the contrary, China's growth in economic strength has brought disturbance to the global market. Most agree that China’s recent purchases of several international enterprises, especially in the energy industry, is part of China’s strategic plan to gain a firm hold of international resources. It is apparent that China’s actions are worth everyone’s concerns. In the last two decades, Taiwan has been embarking on a goal towards democratization. Democratic elections, party politics, military nationalization, human rights protectionism and party turnover are all indexes of Taiwan’s achievements in democratization. In contrast, China is still governed by an authoritative regime and its society has not been fully opened. Their human rights’ record and weapon deployments control are problems that need to be examined seriously. Everyone should use higher standards to evaluate China, to see whether it acts concretely and accepts international standards. More specifically, the international community should see whether China can peacefully deal with the Taiwan Strait issue as litmus for examining "the rise of China." Developments in the Taiwan Strait are closely linked to the security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also an indicator for the international community to gauge regional stability. In the last 10 years, China has used cross-strait political differences to openly claim its position of holding sovereignty over Taiwan in the international arena. In response to Taiwan’s democratization, China has spared no effort in suppressing Taiwan’s participation in international activities. It continues to threaten Taiwan with the use of military force while preventing any form of long-term stable cross-strait development. To make things worse, China passed the so-called anti-secession law in March of 2005 which officially codifies the will use "non-peace means" to resolve the Taiwan issue. The law’s enactment has clearly exposed the essence of China’s "non-peaceful rise,” and also reaffirms the international community’s recognition of the "Chinese threat." The United States, Japan and member countries of the Association for South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have all expressed great concerns over the increased tension in the Taiwan Strait as well as the increased uncertainty in regional security created by the law. Cross-strait relations have already become an inalienable link in international relations. The development in the Taiwan Strait not only affects the welfare of the people on both sides of the Strait, but it has also become an important index for countries when evaluating the East Asia situation and regional security. With all the changes that have occurred in the Taiwan Strait over the past ten years, stability in cross-strait situation has become the common recognition and expectation of the international community. Only though peaceful means can Taiwan and China find solutions to disputes and therefore ensure long-term peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Promoting the authorities on both sides of the Strait to engage in peaceful dialogue and jointly undertake the responsibilities of maintaining cross-strait peace have become the mainstream view of various countries' governments and international consensus. When facing the reality and challenges of "the rise of China", the Taiwanese government emphasizes cooperation and stability in regional security. In the international arena, the government seeks to diligently establish reasonable and normal space of interaction. In cross-strait relations, the government will pursue peace and development. However, we must remind the international community to face up to "the rise of China" and recognize the threat it has on cross-strait relations. "The rise of China" is in fact established through the perception that China’s attractive economic prospect, growing economic and trade, continual military expansion, latent social disorder, one party totalitarian authority, increasing wide disparity between the rich and poor and in different regions and many other different complex factors. Therefore, one cannot be misled by the appearance of China’s rapid economic development while neglecting its serious internal problems. Furthermore, one cannot be blinded by economic rewards and not recognize China’s main goal of annexing Taiwan. We believe that "the rise of China" must be accompanied by "peace awakenings" and “democracy developments" in order to have concrete and positive meaning to peace in the East Asian region and the rest of the world. The common international expectation is that China should "rise democratically" and not "rise of power." Therefore, not only must we guard against the threat created by China’s growing strength, but we should actively assist China in the process of democratization. Taiwan has in recent years achieved democratic consolidation and democratic deepening which could serve as a model of "peace awakening" and "democratic development" for China. Taiwan has the most complete and successful democratization experience in the Chinese community worldwide. This invaluable experience also belongs to the twenty-three million Taiwanese people. We are happy to share, promote Taiwan’s democratization experience and become the model of democratization to all of the Chinese people worldwide. In the ten years of cross-strait exchanges, bilateral economic and trade and social interaction have been frequent. As a result, many issues created have been waiting to be solved. In recent years, Taiwan’s resource and capital have to a certain degree flowed to the other side of the Strait. This has provided a large boost for China's economic development. However, it has actually indirectly strengthened China’s ability to hold down Taiwan. When facing China’s use of exchanges as a mean to achieve its political objective, the Taiwanese government must completely examine the rate and scope of the opening of cross-strait exchanges in order to preserve social stability and national security. Therefore, the government will cautiously devise a plan which will make the necessary management regarding the present stage of cross-strait exchanges. The new opening policy for future cross-strait exchanges should bring more positive impact on cross-strait relations. It should safeguard Taiwan’s national identity, prevent China from denying Taiwan of its sovereignty, dividing Taiwan internally and confusing the international community’s perception of Taiwan through its ploys. Finally, when facing serious cross-strait military imbalances we will also continue to strengthen our own defensive capabilities. We will procure appropriate weapons to defend ourselves and deter China from attempting any military adventures. A balanced cross-strait military power, will force China to reconsider its intention of invading Taiwan through military force. Only this will true peace in the Taiwan Strait be preserved. At the same time, there is a need for Taiwan to strengthen the contact and dialogue between various countries in the region and establish mutual strategic cooperation relations. Ensuring regional security and prosperity should be everyone’s priority. Peace and development have not only become the mainstream trend of international development, but they have also become the basic condition and environment for China to establish a well-off society and positive cross-strait interaction. We would like to remind the Chinese authorities to correctly understand the public opinion in Taiwan and the international expectation for peaceful development in the Taiwan Strait. China needs to renounce its military threat against Taiwan, and jointly engage in dialogue and negotiation to maintain regional and global peace, stability and prosperity. I personally hope that the two day conference will be filled with discussions and exchanges of opinions from various scholars and experts, and provide new ideas and inspirations for cross-strait relations and maintenance of regional peace. Finally, I would like to wish all of you health, prosperity and a successful conference. Thank you!