I know that the members of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe are serious observers of Eurasian events and that you are concerned about the direction of Mongolia's democracy after the June 29, 2008, parliamentary election. I, too, am concerned. Mongolia was once thought of as a vast but isolated Central Asian desert with little relevance to the strategic interests of metropolitan Europe or East Asia. And, indeed, as recently as a quarter-century ago, that was a valid view.
In March 2004, the last time controversy over the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) islands surfaced, the US State Department affirmed that the United States Mutual Security Treaty with Japan covered the islands.
A bitter dispute over election results is bad enough. But Taiwan's troubles - and ours - may be just beginning.
The reason: Our European allies might well approve plans to sell China advanced weaponry at the March 25-26 European Union summit that begins today.
The repercussions would be disastrous. Not only could China use new weapons from Europe against Taiwan, but Chinese generals have said they're prepared to confront U.S. forces in the Pacific if America tries to help Taiwan.
Shaven-headed Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has the imposing physique of a professional wrestler and is not usually pestered by inquisitive foreign reporters. But on May 18, two Chinese-language television crews stood in his way as he emerged from a Senate hearing room after a grilling on the administration's strategy in Iraq. Rather than barrel through the wall of microphones, betacams, and floodlamps, one of the Chinese reporters told me later, the burly deputy secretary stopped.
Democracy in Asia has been full of irony of late. Last week, up to half a million people took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest China's decision that one of the world's most modern cities is still not ready for democracy. Meanwhile the predominantly pastoral population of formerly Communist Mongolia reveled in their democratic freedoms by voting in the country's eighth general election since 1990.
China hands in Washington have been abuzz in the past week with rumors that Beijing was preparing a policy shift on North Korea. But American, Korean and Japanese policymakers shouldn't think China is on the verge of altering its unbending support for North Korea simply because recently a well-meaning Chinese economist, Wang Zhongwen, managed to publish a thoughtful piece on Beijing's misguided North Korea policies. Alas, it was not to be, although teasing the truth from the hype takes a little work.
"In the world today, virtually all of America's adversaries are China's friends." This remarkable observation was made in South China's popular Guangzhou Daily by Yuan Peng, a U.S.-trained expert serving China's Ministry of State Security, in a November 2007 article titled "America's three major schemes to impede China's rise."
Beijing's 60th National Day celebrations last week featured a "Springtime for Mao" battalion of high-stepping, 5-foot-11 female army recruits decked out in hot magenta miniskirts, white boots and petite submachine guns.
For presentation and discussion at a conference on Taiwan Relations Act Entering Its 30th Anniversary: Continuities, Changes, and Challenges
Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
Beijing's "Anti-Secession Law" of March 14, 2005, marked the end of the tacit understanding that Washington and Beijing have shared since December 16, 1978, under which Beijing pretended to pursue a policy of peaceful unification while Washington pretended to pursue a one-China policy.
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