Sunday, February 03, 2008

Taiwan and China At It Again

Sources: China Daily, Reuters

China is ratcheting up the verbal jousting over Taiwan’s proposed referendum regarding its UN status. Taiwanese voters will decide on March 22 whether the Taiwanese state should seek formal UN membership under the name “Taiwan.” The United States, adhering to its “One China” policy, opposes the measure. China released a strongly worded statement opposing the referendum calling this a vote on “de jure independence.” China has threatened that Taiwan President Chen Shui-Bian will “pay a heavy cost” if this vote occurs. China also reiterated the “One China” policy, stating that any issue involving China’s sovereignty “has to be decided by all the 1.3 billion people of the country, including Taiwan compatriots.” Nevertheless, Taiwan has decided to go through with the referendum in the face of world opposition. China views Taiwan as a “renegade” province awaiting reunification, and has promised to unify Taiwan and China—by force if necessary.

Some critics have found that this referendum is being held for political purposes to deflect attention from President Chen’s sagging presidency. President Chen has been accused of accomplishing very little during his terms, and this referendum would deflect such criticism. Furthermore, this referendum is being held after President Chen’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, a pro-independence party) suffered a massive defeat at the polls.

Question: How far will China dare to go if Taiwan decides to pursue UN membership under the name “Taiwan?” Will the United States intervene—and if so, how?

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