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---"Focused Coverage Informed Perspectives"---
Mon, Nov 10, 1997 edition
Lee asserts Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation
meanwhile, damage control tries to explain it as misunderstanding

Also in this edition . . .

1: Taipei turns down Beijing suggestion, offering its own instead
2: MAC's Chang says time not ripe for ROC islands to open direct links
3: in Taichung County magistrate's post attracts six candidates
4: Premier says govt. and private sector should manage NHI
5: effort to construct strategic relationship ends centuries-old dispute
6: project enters second phase
7: trade delegation inks contracts worth millions in run up to establishing official ties
8: Sichuan opera: 'Face Changing'


Contest: ( Inside China Today - Best Site Contest ) Voting continues at Inside China for the best China-related web site . . . .

Independence: President Lee asserts Taiwan's sovereignty, unwilling to be pushed at Beijing's whim
( Leader Asserts Taiwan Is `Independent, Sovereign' ) In an interview with the Washington Post's Keith Richburg, President Lee asserted the ROC's position as an independent and sovereign nation, reiterating his government's position not to hold off on reunification until the mainland "becomes free, democratic and has social justice." He said he would like to travel to the mainland and talk with the people, to explain to college students and others about life in Taiwan. He also dismissed any concern about the warming in PRC-US relations. "Taiwan is a symbol of American idealism," Lee said. "Freedom, democracy and human rights -- Taiwan is a symbol."

Mr Lee sounded defiant in his interview and unwilling to permit the mainland to dictate Taiwan's future course or the terms of any joint talks. On how this will affect cross-strait relations, two analysts weigh in with their assessment. One says this signals a new shift and mode of rhetoric for Taipei. Both sides have been working behind the scenes to warm relations for a Spring thaw, and the analyst suggests these efforts have been put on hold by Lee's statements. Another analyst says Beijing has grown tired by Lee's intransigence and inability to form a coherent mainland policy, and will await the post-Lee administration, he says.

Mr Lee also gave his opinion on the 'Asian values' debate, asserting the universality of human nature. "Asian people are people, are human beings," he said. "They have their culture and heritage and tradition -- that's different. But you can't say human nature is different."

Independence: after interview, damage control for Lee's remarks
(sources: Central News Agency and The China Post) Officials yesterday denied the criticism that President Lee Teng-hui was a supporter of Taiwan independence after a major U.S. newspaper cited him as stating Taiwan was an independent country.

In Saturday's edition of The Washington Post, an interview with Lee was published that quoted him as saying "Taiwan is already independent" and that Taiwan was not a province of China.

Amid widespread criticism of what had been widely interpreted as President Lee's support of Taiwan's independence, yesterday officials told reporters his remarks had been misinterpreted by Washington Post reporter Keith Richburg.

Foreign Minister Jason Hu urged the public not to be overly sensitive about what he called minor misinterpretation of Lee's remarks by foreign reporters.

In Kaohsiung, Government Information Office Director-General David Lee said the president had used the word Taiwan several times instead of "ROC," but added that the usage was only for convenience, rather than making political assertions about independence. He said that throughout the entire conversation, the president didn't offer any support for Taiwan independence. He mentioned that in the conversation the president meant that after 86 years the Republic of China is a sovereign, independent state, and there was nothing that changed its policy.

Earlier, the Washington Post interview had sparked criticism against Lee from right-wing, pro-unification advocates, as well as praise from radical pro-independence supporters.

At a meeting of the "New Tung Meng Huei," a pro-unification organization, angry right-wing advocates said the interview hinted that Lee had abandoned his pledge to make a journey of peace to mainland China for consultations with communist Chinese leaders.

Peng Ming-min, who ran as the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate in last year's inaugural presidential election, hailed Lee for telling the truth. He said Lee should be commended for making the remarks and added that Lee's past statements on the issue had been mistaken.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

Cross strait relations: Taipei turns down Beijing suggestion, offering its own instead
(sources: Central News Agency and The China Post) The quasi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) yesterday proposed having its chairman Koo Chen-fu lead a delegation to visit mainland China in mid-December, turning down a Beijing's invitation for vice chairman Chiao Jen-ho to attend an economic seminar.

Taiwan's semi-official Central News Agency reported late last night that Beijing had rejected the SEF proposal, but Taipei has not yet received an official refusal.

SEF made the proposal in a letter of reply sent yesterday to its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), which on Thursday invited Chiao to lead a group of 12 board directors to visit the mainland in early December and attend the opening of a cross-strait economic seminar set to start Dec.7 in Xiamen.

"The foundation appreciates your invitation," the SEF letter said. "In order to promote healthy exchanges between both sides, the foundation suggests letting our chairman Koo Chen-fu lead a delegation to visit in mid-December or later." SEF said it also welcomes advisers and board members from ARATS to form a delegation to visit Taiwan in the future.

The decision to bypass the seminar aiming at promoting cross-strait economic ties and to assign an official of a higher level to visit some other time was made in a meeting called by the government late Thursday night. Though the ARATS invitation, which was a belated reply to a SEF proposal on exchange of delegations raised in July 1996, has been widely considered helpful to the restoration of dialogue between Taipei and Beijing, Taipei has questioned the motives behind the seminar invitation.

Cross strait relations: MAC's Chang says time not ripe for ROC islands to open direct links
(sources: Central News Agency and The China Post) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Chang King-yuh said on Friday that time and conditions are not yet ripe for the ROC's offshore islands to open "three direct links" with mainland China.

Answering questions at the Legislative Yuan from New Party Legislator Yok Mu-ming, Chang said the government's mainland policy has been worked out for the benefit of the whole nation and is not designed to apply to some locations.

Chang said that the government is fully aware of the public's desire to see the establishment of such links, but stressed that the conditions and the timing for such links are not yet ripe because of the strategic value of the two islands and the mainland's hostile attitude toward Taiwan.

Asked to comment on recent reports that mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) has invited members of the board of directors and board of supervisors of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to visit the mainland, Chang said the government considers the invitation to be very important.

But he also pointed out that the SEF had already suggested that SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu lead a delegation to mainland China, adding that the dialogue channels between the SEF and ARATS should be maintained, as the two organizations form the main bridge for negotiations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

SEF and ARATS are the semi-officials organizations authorized by Taipei and Beijing, respectively, to handle bilateral civilian exchanges in the absence of formal contact between the two sides.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)


Election coverage: in Taichung County magistrate's post attracts six candidates
(source: Central News Agency and The China Post) For the first time since local governmental elections were launched on the island several decades ago, candidates running for the Taichung County magistrate post will be facing the most closely fought race this year.

An unprecedented six candidates from four parties registered for the Nov.29 election to run for the magistrate seat. They include the Kuomintang's Kuo Jung-chen and Hsu Chung-hsiung, the Democratic Progressive Party's Liao Yung-lai, Taiwan Independence Party's Chien Wen-nan, and the independents Chen Chin-lung and Liu Chuan-chung.

Many observers said that they expect a tough race as several of the candidates share the support of a single party. Kuo Jung-chen, Hsu Chung-hsiung and Liu Chuan-chung, of the same party but of diverse factions, are major rivals weaving an intricate and complicated election climate in Taichung County.

Former lawmaker Liao Yung-lai, the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party's candidate, is greatly supported by constituents of Tali, where he raised considerable funds during a fund-raising banquet held last week. Compared to others, the Taiwan Independence Party's Chien Wen-nan and the independent Chen Chin-lung do not arouse much fanfare among the constituents.

Chien promoted his decision to reform the educational system if he is elected magistrate. Chen recently completed a pilgrimage tour of local temples to pass on his campaign policies. The election takes place in 19 days and is apparently a tough race for candidates and also a hard time for constituents.

Health insurance scheme: Premier says govt. and private sector should manage NHI
Premier Vincent Siew said yesterday that the National Health Insurance program should be sponsored by the government and managed by the private sector, so that the program can be better implemented.

Siew made the remarks during a speech at the opening session of the 19th annual conference of the Formosan Medical Association. He said that the National Health Insurance program has been smoothly carried out since march 1, 1995, mainly because of strong support from the health care sector.

Siew said that over the past two and a half years, the government has worked hard to expand the number of people covered by the National Health Insurance program and seeks a balance between health insurance incomes and expenses.

From now on, he said, the government will move to upgrade the quality of medical care, reduce the costs of care and provide better care for minority groups with special needs.

The premier called for doctors to contribute more care and attention and maintain harmonious ties with their patients in order to maximize the efficiency of the country's health care system.

After the insurance program is managed by the private sector, residents will have a choice of different care programs and medical expenses that still have to be paid by residents should decline as a result of private competition, he said.

See also

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

Semiconductors: ( The Straits Times - Cybernews News ) A report on Taiwan's semiconductor industry focuses on its massive investment and the potential risks associated with it: "Latest statistics compiled by the US-based Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International showed that the industry's investment ratio is far larger on Taiwan than in the United States, Japan and South Korea in the first half of this year. For every US$100 in earnings, Taiwan plans to spend US$110 in investment, compared to US$60 in South Korea and just US$22 in Japan and US$21 in the United States, the data show. . . . "


Russia: effort to construct strategic relationship ends centuries-old dispute
( Joint bid to establish key partnership ) Calling for the end of Cold War mentalities, Presidents Jiang and Yeltsin said on Sunday they want to forge a strategic relationship between their two nations, but they emphasized such a relationship would not be like past alliances. The statements were made during Boris Yeltsin's three day state visit this past weekend. Mr Jiang was quoted as saying, "I think the bilateral relationship is a strategic partnership of equality and mutual respect. We will not form an alliance, and this kind of long-term relationship is not directed against another country." In fact a joint-statement went on to hail "positive changes in the relations between Russia, China, the United States and Japan accomplished in recent top-level contacts."

Premier Li Peng recently concluded a visit to Japan, notes the paper. And of course President Jiang finished his trip to the united States last week. What we are seeing here is another dimension to the Jiang-Clinton summit, something perhaps not emphasized enough in US media. Clearly Jiang used the trip to shore up his own credentials and support from cadres at home. But put into another context, that of China's overall foreign policy, the flurry of state visits exemplifies the energy by which the PRC government is moving to deal with the major forces in its world relations. Mr Jiang has repeatedly used the term, 'multi-polar world', to describe shift from a world divided into two camps into one of many.

( Border agreement ends centuries-old dispute ) The ostensible outcome of Yeltsin's visit was the consummation of an agreement for resolving a long-standing border dispute. Dating back to the 17th century, the dispute ranged over a 4,300-kilometre eastern border. This has been resolved, with each side agreeing to give a little. Moreover, as the South China Morning Post reports, "the two presidents agreed to go ahead with delineation of the 55-km frontier that makes up their tiny western border, squeezed in between Mongolia and Kazakhstan." The paper reports, however, sovereignty of three islands on the Amur River remains unresolved. Days earlier Mr Yeltsin had worked out an agreement with Japan's Prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to resolve sovereignty claims over the Kuril Islands, taken by the Soviet Union at the close of World War Two; they agreed to sign a peace treaty by 2000.

Border demarcation key to peace, stablity is a short piece from the China Daily. A map of the Soviet-China frontier also provide historical perspective, noting territories seized by Russia in the 19th century. ( JPEG image 1024x1254 pixels )

( Main points of the leaders' statement ) The South China Morning Post sums up the major points of their meeting.

( Russian ties relatively embraced ) And the paper notes some interesting differences in Jiang/ Yeltsin's relationship.

See also Inside China: ( Border Hostility With Russia Ends )

China Daily: ( Sino-Russian ties hailed )

Three Gorges Dam: project enters second phase
( Dam project enters most difficult work phase ) The Three Gorges Dam project was big news this weekend, as Li Peng et al. hailed the completion of the first phase. The BBC World Service and other news organizations featured it as the top story on Friday, noting not only the project's size but also fears for its impact on environment and people. The China Daily notes, the dam's actual construction will commence during this phase, beginning with the pouring of a leakage-proof wall. The paper also mentions issues concerning resettlement of people.

( Chinese Media Hails Move to Tame Wild Yangtze River )

See also Washington Post: ( The Yangtze Dam: Feat or Folly? )

(Chinese BIG 5 encoding) (Note: Access to China Times articles are limited to subscribers. As the paper's system is currently configured, to access an article listed here you must first go to the front-page at and from there locate the article)

South Africa: trade delegation inks contracts worth millions in run up to establishing official ties
( Major trade deals inked with S. Africa ) The China Daily reports, Chinese firms on a trade mission to South Africa signed 18 contracts totalling $540 million in Johannesburg yesterday. "The largest deal was an agreement between China's Northeastern Power Transmission and Transformation Group and South Africa's Eskom company for the import of Chinese power transmission and transformer equipment worth $130 million," writes the paper.


Sichuan Opera: ( Old opera features new elements ) The China Daily has a feature story on a Sichuan opera recently performed at the Fifth China Art Festival. Entitled "Face Changing,"

  • "The story is set in the late 1910s or early 1920s in the region along the Yangtze River. The itinerant entertainer Shui Shangpiao (literally, flowing along the river) sells his art of face changing to the audience to make a living wherever he goes on his lonely boat. His masterful face-changing action unfailingly draws passionate applause and cheers from the audience. Having no family and only the dilapidated boat as his home, Shui wants very much a son to pass down his face-changing art to and enjoy family life with. But he would never accept a girl as the successor to his unique art because he believes in the old idea of male supremacy. What he wants is the one "with teapot spout," he says.

  • "As fate would have it, he buys a 10-year-old "boy" from a human-being trader who ensures him that the young person indeed has a "teapot spout." The "boy" Gou Wa (literally doggy or dog boy), who is now Shui Shangpiao's grandson, is clever, considerate and understanding. The old man congratulates himself that he has got an endearing grandson and a young man to whom he can pass down his unique art. The once lonely boat is now brimming with the heart-warming atmosphere of domesticity. But Gou Wa eventually turns out to be a girl in the guise of a boy. . . .

  • "The production of the play is geared to "being new" in every way. As a result, a series of acting and production techniques have been borrowed from movie, television plays and so on. Stage lighting effects are exploited to the full. The stage setting is very simple. By alternating the lights on stage, changes in time and space are achieved. In this way, the traditional chronicle or linear arrangement of events and characters' appearance on the stage is discarded and the tempo of the plot is quickened. This may accommodate the tastes of young people today, who often shy away from Peking Opera, Sichuan Opera and all other local operas. This is a result of the hectic pace of life and many entertainment and sports distractions such as karaoke, disco, football, mahjong, video games, talking leisurely over the steaming hot pot and so on."

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a news service focused on China, Taiwan and Hong Kong
©1997 Matthew Sinclair-Day
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