Catalytic Diplomacy
Finger in the Dike: October 1999–May 20, 2000
In late 1999, Stone meets Presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian. In Beijing, subsequently, in November, the Deputy Director of the Taiwan Office of the State Council describes to Stone principles on which Taipei-Beijing talks could be started. Stone then has a memorable discussion with Vice Premier Qian Qichen, makes a number of successful suggestions, and “predicts” the possible election of Chen Shui-bian. He meets with China’s chief negotiator, former Shanghai Mayor Wang Daohan and with its most Taiwan-relevant General, General Xiong Guangkai.

In January, to encourage talks, while in Taiwan, he persuades Chen Shui-bian to agree to discuss the One-China Principle with Beijing. In March, after Chen Shui-bian is elected, he returns to Taiwan and meets with the new President and Vice President, Madame Lu.

Later, in Beijing, he meets again with the Vice Premier for a long talk. And the Deputy Director of the Taiwan Office of the State Council makes a proposal for opening talks.

On June 27, 2000, while Stone is in Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian accepts the 1992 Consensus—thought to be a minimal condition for getting talks started—but, under domestic political pressure, is forced to withdraw his acceptance.


In Taiwan, the half-century rule by the Kuomintang was being challenged, in an upcoming presidential election, by a Democratic Progressive Party calling for formal independence from China.

China had repeatedly indicated a readiness to wage war to prevent Taiwan’s independence. Based on political and cultural ties, and on the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States would be drawn into any fighting between China and Taiwan. Thus many observers saw in this March 2000 election a serious possibility of a slide to a disastrous war between China and the United States.


Group picture of Zhou En-Lai and Stone in 1972
Group picture of Zhou En-Lai and Stone in 1972 [See larger]
Catalytic Diplomacy’s standing to deal with this issue derived from the fact that in 1972, its president, Jeremy Stone, took the first scientific delegation to China and importantly helped catalyze U.S.-Chinese scientific exchange. In the process, he made efforts to help save the life of Premier Zhou En-lai, then suffering from multiple cancers. The Chinese had a long memory for such things and these were, in any case, discussed in Stone’s book Every Man Should Try.

Later, in 1996, Stone developed a method for organizing the reunification of China (called the Northeast Strategy) that was discussed favorably at the time by officials both on the Chinese Mainland and in Taiwan. These matters, discussed in Chapters 12 and 28 of Every Man Should Try, were well known and well remembered in both Taipei and Beijing. (In 2008, the Northeast Strategy was being used by newly elected Taiwan President Ma.)

Before the March 2000 election, meeting with the DPP presidential candidate in October 1999, and in January 2000, Stone persuaded him to offer publicly to “discuss” One China with Beijing to see what kind of policy might be agreed if, indeed, he were elected. Subsequently, Stone began a kind of shuttle diplomacy, meeting, among others, with China’s chief negotiators, with the relevant vice premier in China and with a highly influential general.

DPP’s Chen Shui-bian is elected, as Stone had warned China he might be, and a tense period occurred. During this period, from 1999 to April 2000, Stone made five country visits in an effort to find some solution and to avoid conflict. During this peak period of fear of war, Stone became a key interlocutor between the two sides—even inaccurately termed an “envoy” from Taiwan to China in The Washington Post.

Under pressure from the U.S. government, the Chinese government and the Taiwanese population, Chen Shui-bian had been careful, in his inaugural speech and in his first month, not to take provocative steps toward independence. But China made no move to start dialogue. Accordingly during Stone’s fifth trip to Taiwan, on June 27, Chen Shui-bian’s offer to “discuss” the policy having failed, he suddenly accepted China’s minimum condition for dialogue. Unfortunately, immediately thereafter, he was forced to withdraw the acceptance by political pressures.


In 1949, the Chinese Communists completed their revolution on the mainland of China by capturing Beijing, but their opponents, the Kuomintang (KMT), led by General Chiang Kai-shek, still had control of the island of Taiwan to which they had fled.

Chairman Mao at Tiananmen Square
Chairman Mao at Tiananmen Square [See larger]
Chinese Chairman Mao Tse-tung was preparing to invade Taiwan to complete the revolution, and Washington had no intention of intervening. But, in 1950, the North Koreans invaded South Korea. The U.S. military advised President Harry Truman that, under these new circumstances, Taiwan would be essential to U.S. military activities in the region, as a kind of unsinkable aircraft carrier. Accordingly, President Truman ordered the Seventh Fleet to interpose itself to prevent the Chinese from invading Taiwan. This situation has remained basically unchanged for six decades.

During this period, Beijing has maintained that it was working toward a peaceful solution for unification. But, at the same time, it asserted its sovereign right to use force someday if necessary. More recently, it listed a few contingencies in which it would indeed use force: Taiwan attempting to build an atomic weapon; Taiwan declaring independence; chaos on the island; foreign intervention and efforts to take over the island.

Meanwhile, it built up its military forces–-specifically hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan from across the Taiwan Strait. And because China has now completed securing the return to the Mainland of Hong Kong and Macao, it looks toward Taiwan as the last problem of reversing colonialism and foreign intervention. On this subject, Chinese public opinion is loud and nationalistic, and no Chinese leader can easily compromise on this goal–much less give it up. Moreover, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) supports making every effort, including military threats, to resecure Taiwan.

During this period, Taiwan evolved from Chiang Kai-shek’s dictatorial rule to the somewhat more relaxed rule of his son, Chiang Ching-kuo and then to the democratic practices of the elected President Lee Teng-hui. As it did so, U.S. opinion, particularly among anticommunist conservatives, but also among liberals, became highly supportive of Taiwan; today the Taiwan lobby is stronger in Washington than any other lobby of a foreign state except the pro-Israel lobby.

Officially, U.S. policy is in favor of any peaceful solution agreeable to the two sides. And it supports the idea that there is only one China as virtually all countries do. (However, twenty-some small countries recognize Taipei rather than Beijing).

President Bill Clinton had said that while the United States does not support Taiwan’s right of self-determination (which would permit it to declare independence), Taiwan should not be forced to accept any solution that its people do not approve. And American conservatives have urged the government to announce openly that it would support Taiwan against any military threat that Taiwan did not itself provoke, rather than follow a traditional policy of refusing to announce what it would do in advance.

TRIP TO TAIWAN: October 22-October 30, 1999

Following an invitation to China in late November to discuss the issue of peace in the strait, I decided to visit Taiwan first. Its Republic of China (ROC) government remembered my visit in 1996—and the Northeast Strategy for reunification that emerged from it (for which see Chapter 28 of Every Man Should Try). It was quite ready to arrange a visit for me and redoubled its interest on hearing that I was preparing to visit the Mainland.

In the absence from Taiwan of the foreign minister and the president of the Academy of Sciences, the Foreign Ministry arranged visits with the deputy foreign minister (then David Lee), the head of the Mainland Affairs Council (a cabinet-level minister named Su Chi), a vice chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (a private group that negotiates with Beijing’s private group Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS)) and with representatives of the ruling KMT (the secretary-general) and the Independence Party (the deputy chairman of the DPP).

I then set up other appointments and, in the end, saw experts, businessmen, a billionaire, the mayor of Tainan, the DPP candidate for president, Chen Shui-bian, and, separately, his campaign manager. All in all, I had 20 interviews and, at night, read three months of back issues of the English-language Taipei Times—from which one can learn a lot. This turned out to be a useful and even exciting part of each subsequent visit–catching up on Taiwan politics through reading back issues of this paper.

The danger of conflict turned on the upcoming election of March 18, in which a three-way race for president produced a real possibility that the DPP might win the election, which would produce a crisis in Mainland-Taiwan affairs. China was becoming increasingly impatient with the failure of negotiations for reunification with Taiwan, and meanwhile, Taiwan was becoming increasingly complacent about the danger from China—relying upon the United States to protect it.

Meeting Key Actors in October 1999

At the time of my arrival in Taiwan, the Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui had proclaimed the startling view, to a German journalist, that there were sovereign countries on both sides of the strait—that Taiwan was a sovereign state. The idea of state-to-state relations across the strait, anathema to Beijing, would help steal the thunder of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), then engaged in a hot race for the presidency.

With Su Chi, director of Mainland Affairs Council
With Su Chi, director of Mainland Affairs Council [See larger]
Su Chi—Director of the Mainland Affairs Council

One key interview was with Su Chi, then director of the Mainland Affairs Council–-one of the key positions in the Taiwanese Cabinet. With a Ph.D. from Columbia, he was Americanized. I began to realize that the Taiwanese officials were often far closer to the United States than were the Chinese. He knew all the American jargon and the reasoning of Harvard’s game theorist Thomas Schelling. Clever and open, he played a key role in the development of doctrine for Taiwan’s cross-strait policy. He had even invented the phrase “1992 Consensus” to paper over differences between the two sides. He was frank in saying that, since there was little mutual trust across the strait, all the leaders were playing it safe. He tried to explain why the KMT was trying to put on the brakes on cross-strait investment.

Frederick Chien, Former Foreign Minister

A second visit was with Fredrick Chien, former foreign minister of the Taiwanese government from 1990 to 1996. Later he had been the unofficial ambassador to the United States when the Taiwanese had only a Taiwanese interest office called the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Relations Office. Dr. Chien had gotten his Ph.D. from Yale in the same class as my friend Morton H. Halperin, and we had met in 1996 when he was foreign minister. He was then, from 1999 to 2004, head of the Control Yuan, a branch of the Taiwanese government concerned with audits and preventing corruption.

Taiwan owed a lot to Chien. After Taiwan was ousted from the United Nations in 1971, Chien had made a concerted effort, as Taiwan’s representative to the United States, to meet and befriend everyone he could. His Rolodex became larger and larger until Taiwan, building on this, had developed a very strong base of American support.

With Shih Ming
With Shih Ming [See larger]
Shih Ming—The Nelson Mandela of Taiwan

Over lunch, I met Shih Ming-teh, the Nelson Mandela of Taiwan, having served 27 years in KMT prisons for espousing the independence of Taiwan when General Chiang Kai-shek was claiming that he still owned the Mainland. A very logical person, he had persuaded the Independence Party that it could claim that Taiwan was independent even if it did not say so since, if it had been long independent, there was no need to assert it. (This solved a number of problems, including the anti-sedition laws of the KMT and the danger that China would be provoked by assertions of independence.) He was no politician and earned enemies by his frankness, but he was periodically breaking new ground. By 2006, he was organizing 1-million-person campaigns against the DPP President Chen Shui-bian in order to oppose corruption and clean up his party.

Lin Yi-hsiung, then the chairman of the DPP, discussed with me the kind of One China that the DPP might support as consistent with its independence policy. While I awaited the beginning of this meeting, I saw an attractive young woman organizing things and asked if she would have dinner with me to explain matters further. It was Hsiao Bi-khim, then in charge of foreign policy for DPP. She explained a lot to me.

Hsiao Bi-khim—A Brilliant Analyst and Political Figure

She said the party was repositioning itself: trying to find out what people thought and not just “appealing for help.” It wanted to be repositioned as a guarantor of independence rather than one appealing for it. It wanted to be respected for leadership, not just for courage. In China policy, it wanted to shift from “hating them” to “dialogue with them.” It was going to be more forthcoming than KMT on dialogue, on direct links and on economic engagement—but, of course, all subject to security considerations.

DPP has much more support from young people, more younger people on the staff, and more women than KMT and has overtaken KMT in local levels. Only the fear of war with China has kept KMT in power through the transition to democracy. Chen Shui-bian will not declare independence if elected—not directly.

Taiwan is shifting between Western and Chinese views, and a stalemate results from the impossibility of merging Western and Chinese ideas on negotiation and “face.” The desire for face is part of Taiwan’s insecurity and not just a way of keeping China at arm's length. The Taiwanese are very proud of their accomplishments, and this combination of pride and insecurity is reflected in the way they deal with China. The danger was that China might try to divert attention from instability during democratization. There could be accidental or inadvertent war or a deliberate crisis induced by Beijing but alleged to be a Taiwanese “provocation.”

But no one wants to take a risk for peace, so only outside interference could solve or change the situation.

Hsiao Bi-khim got me an appointment with the presidential candidate himself, Chen Shui-bian, translated for me at it, and introduced me also to his campaign manager, Chiou I-jen, who chatted with me later.

The Meeting With Chen Shui-Bian

I asked Chen Shui-bian three questions:

Would DPP change the Constitution to say that Taiwan was independent, if it were elected? He said: “Independence reflects a ‘historic truth.’ For the two to become unified, this would require a plebiscite. DPP does plan to change the Constitution in certain ways to strengthen separation of powers and to reduce the number of congressmen and to seek a unicameral parliament. But this will take a lot of time. And we would only put independence in the Constitution if there were a consensus in favor of it."

Asked if there could be an interim agreement, he said the platform said Taiwan needed “mutual respect” and “equal footing” and China should accept that Taiwan is an “equal negotiating partner” while Taiwan should accept “no preconditions about the future.” DPP wanted progress of any kind—interim or whatever. And it wanted peace not only for Taiwan but for the whole Asian area. DPP wanted advice from scholars and Track 2 diplomacy because the two putative NGOs designed to negotiate for the two sides—the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and ARATS—although good, needed to be supplemented by unofficial channels to solve sensitive issues.

DPP’s main priority was going to be domestic issues—preventing crime and corruption and doing relief work. For five years, DPP would be very busy. Between March 18 and a May inaugural, the DPP candidate wanted to go to Beijing on any basis possible to show sincerity.

Mindful of his busy schedule as a candidate, I tried to take my leave. He responded by asking me to stay and began asking me questions. Would an ABM system defend Taiwan? (Answer: no.) What about the relations between North and South Korea? And so on. He reminded me of Bill Clinton—smart and eager to learn. I was impressed. And the meeting with his campaign manager went well, also.

Chiou I-jen—Campaign Manager

With Chiou I-jen
With Chiou I-jen [See larger]
Chiou I-jen, then Chen Shui-bian’s campaign manager, told me that the candidate, if elected, could visit Beijing and promise not to hold a plebiscite and to emphasize economic issues. If he were received, it would not be as president, as he would not yet be inaugurated and would not need honors. If the PRC wanted a dialogue with him, various kinds of arrangements could be made. Beijing needed to be in touch with the DPP and not just with the KMT, whose psychology is to settle the civil war, which it can’t. ARATS-SEF is a kind of party-party contact. He said the KMT always wanted an interim arrangement.

I realized that his DPP party might actually win—especially because Hsiao Bi-khim had explained that, with the ruling KMT party having split into two parts, Chen Shui-bian needed only about 37 percent to win the election.

A Chinese Billionaire & the Straits Exchange Foundation

On Thursday, I flew to the south of Taiwan and met with a billionaire. His house was surrounded by statuary. He was “deep green” (i.e., a hard-line independence supporter). He said: “If the Chinese come here, I will get my rifle and shoot them myself.” But by 2005, to relieve Chinese political pressure on his many Chinese investments and to save the jobs of the workers there, he was forced to renounce publicly some of these pro-independence views.

In talking to a high official of the Straits Exchange Foundation, I realized that he was unable to give any important reason for cross-strait agreements, saying only that they “build confidence.” It dawned on me that the Taiwanese government had little interest in improving relations.

Apparently, in 1992, the two sides were willing to agree on One China as long as they could each accept their own interpretation of what it would mean—with Taiwan taking it to mean the Republic of China, the name of the government defeated in the civil war but whose defeat Taiwan had not recognized.

But after 1995–1996, China would no longer accept the double interpretation, and Taiwan had never really accepted it. Now there is a coalition in the island to avoid “One China today” or to have two interpretations but to agree on “One China tomorrow.”

My earlier memoir, published in the spring of 1999, had included a graph showing the Northeast Strategy as it had been developed in 1996 and discussed with the Taiwanese. (Appendix) During this visit, I was tipped off to the fact that President Lee Teng-hui had published, in May 1999, a book with a quite similar graph. The book was “Existence: The Essence of Taiwan’s Diplomacy.” He had adjusted and developed my idea but changed it. His graph had four quadrants, rather than one. (Appendix)

Meanwhile, a KMT official admitted that if trade with the Mainland were disrupted, Taiwan would go into a trade deficit. And a high KMT official added that the United States getting involved by proposing interim solutions was itself a form of pressure. He said that the KMT wanted the relationship to be improved step by step, but Beijing wanted a grand settlement.

I had learned a lot. At the November 13 FAS annual meeting—I was not retiring until June—I reported, in passing, on these activities, albeit on behalf of Catalytic Diplomacy. There was surprise that I had talked to the Independence Party and at such a high level.


Two weeks later, I went back to Asia and visited the other side of the conflict. In Beijing, I enjoyed very high-level treatment for one who had no special standing as a present or former U.S. official.

In particular, I spent an hour in Beijing with Vice Premier Qian Qichen (the number-two man in China in setting Taiwanese policy) and two hours in Shanghai with the 84-year-old chairman of the Mainland’s negotiating team on Taiwan, Wang Daohan (number-three man in setting China’s policy). (The number-one policy setter was, of course, President Jiang Zemin, and number four was said to be General Xiong Guangkai.)

China has a president who is head of state and a premier who is in charge of the government. Four vice premiers supervise the various cabinet officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, and so on. Thus Vice Premier Qian Qichen supervised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tourism, Macao, and Taiwan. He seemed kind and rather sweet, understood English quite well, and spoke it if he wanted.

It was very revealing to see the “fine structure” of bureaucratic operations in China, where relations between officials are subtle and tense. In an earlier meeting at the Institute for Taiwan Studies, its director had cautioned my guides that my “ignore words, create facts” axiom was “too unbalanced” and that I should be “more balanced” when talking to the vice premier. Later, before the meeting, a junior official had counterbalanced this by saying that the vice premier “wanted to hear all of your ideas” and asked me for a copy of my remarks before I went. Everyone seemed to consider this high meeting as a very important deal.

Meanwhile, there appeared to be a good deal of interest in my Northeast Strategy, and it was clear that China was looking for a new approach to Taiwan.

At the Department of North American Affairs, I made an effort to persuade the Foreign Ministry to make a second try at getting professional advice on public relations toward the United States. An effort six years before had failed. This one failed, also.

Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen laughs on accepting a button saying "ABM — Paper Tiger"
Deputy Prime Minister Qian Qichen laughs on accepting a button saying "ABM — Paper Tiger" [See larger]
An evening discussion was held with the Arms Control Directorate about missile defense and North Korea. A button the visitor had prepared was provided that said: “ABM—Paper Tiger,” with a ragged cat on the button to show the tiger.

Meeting with the Vice Premier

The evening before, I had suddenly realized how best to explain what was, in effect, the emerging Taiwanese strategy. I recalled the story of the Chinese emperor whose favorite horse had become ill and the emperor’s statement: “All efforts must be made to save this horse and whoever announces that the horse is dead will be executed.” The horse died and the people were afraid to tell the emperor.

One man—who could, I said, be called Taiwan—had dared to deal with the problem. He advised the emperor: “Emperor, the horse is lying on the ground.” The Emperor said “So!” “And, Emperor, the horse has not eaten for three days.” The emperor said “So!” And then Taiwan said: “Emperor, we have noticed that the horse is not breathing.” The emperor’s response was: “You fool, this means the horse is dead.”

According to the ancient tale, the people decided that the emperor himself had announced the death of the horse, and decided that, since he had, he was the one who should be executed.

In sum, Taiwan was not likely to “declare independence” because the one-China policy was a “favorite horse,” and the Mainland had already threatened execution for anyone saying that “the one-China policy was dead.” So Taiwan was, instead, intent on suggesting independence and provoking the Mainland into announcing independence through some violent response that would put the onus on the Mainland. Then, I said, Taiwan would proclaim itself innocent of any provocation, put the blame on Beijing and ask the United States for help.

After this discussion, the vice premier said that most people in Taiwan wanted the status quo and, therefore, that there was little likelihood of the Independence Party winning the election. I pointed out that the KMT was splitting into two parties and that it, in effect, was offering two candidates and there would be three in all. Thus the election could be won by only 35 percent of the vote.

I said that, 42 years before, I had run for president of my senior class at Swarthmore in an election in which there were two football players (a high-status sport) and myself, a cross-country runner. The football players had split the football vote and the cross-country runner won. The vice premier joked: “So you think the KMT candidates are football players.”

Here, and in other meetings, I suggested that China might find it easier to deal with Chen Sui-bian, the Independence Party candidate, than with President Lee Teng-hui of the KMT, for a variety of reasons. One was the example of President Richard Nixon going to China. Also, Chen wanted the Three Links (direct post, transportation and trade) without any quid pro quo and was trying to show he was not a “bomb-thrower” like Lee.

I explained how the candidates on the right and the left were moving toward the center as in an American election—with KMT talking of “state-to-state relations” and DPP talking of how mature and responsible it would be if elected. Indeed, DPP was trying to move from being a party of “protestors and demonstrators” to being a party that could govern.

I said China wanted to deter declarations of independence but could not define what it meant to “declare” independence. Accordingly, Taiwan could be warned not to change the Constitution, and it would then respond that it was not interested in “changing the Constitution” but was going to have a plebiscite. And if warned by China not to hold a plebiscite, it could, someday, just elect a candidate who had a platform that said Taiwan was already independent.

I suggested that China thought there was only one way to prevent the independence of the Taiwanese (deterrence), but actually there was another (benign neglect). The Chinese public should be advised that even a Taiwanese declaration of independence would have no significance if not recognized by other countries. And China had effectively prevented such recognition for 20 years.

I urged China not to worry so much about Taiwan’s words and chanted for the vice premier: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” (I had carefully secured an excellent Chinese translation of this phrase and four other maxims—which translation I handed the vice premier; they included: “Be flexible, not rigid”; “Win the hearts and minds of the people.” “Seizing the high moral ground”; “Taking the high road.” His response: “These are excellent translations.”)

I advised letting the international community determine the One China policy, saying “Taiwan can say it is living on the Moon but it does not mean Taiwan is living on the Moon unless the international community accepts that it is.”

Taiwan, I said, might have much influence in the U.S. Congress, but it could not force the U.S. government to recognize Taiwan. There were only two exceptions. The first alternative was if Taiwan came under attack and made a sudden declaration of independence and called for help. The second was if China and the United States had long since become enemies. So it seemed that China should avoid both of these possibilities. In general, threats against Taiwan helped Taiwanese independence generally, and some Taiwanese leaders wanted to provoke them.

"ABM Paper Tiger" button
"ABM Paper Tiger" button [See larger]
Referring to the story of the sick horse, the vice premier said: “If you return to Taiwan, tell them not to use such sophisticated strategies to do something foolish.” And he wished the visitor “good luck.” Later he advised his assistants, “There was a lot there I can use.”

(At the end of the meeting, the representatives of the hosting organization China International Culture Exchange Center (CICEC), who felt at bureaucratic risk because the official was so high, were happy.)

Later, President Jiang Zemin gave a New Year’s Day speech that picked up on one of these points by saying, “The international community generally agrees with the One China principle and implements the One China policy.” (Note)

Chinese Generals and the Foreign Ministry’s Sha Zukang

In the morning, the visitor was taken to a think tank for the military, the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, where he was met by old friends. (I had dined in 1986 with the Institute’s first director, General Wu—Chairman Mao’s favorite—and, several times, with General Wu’s successor, General Xu Xin. The institute is now led by an active-duty three-star general, Xiong Guanghai. Discussion was held on Taiwan and on national missile defense.

I also had a meeting with, and hosted a dinner for, the chief of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Arms Control, Sha Zukang, and discussed mainly the arms race and the treaty banning anti-ballistic missiles systems—providing Ambassador Sha with several copies of the button. (On January 19, six weeks later, a report from Beijing in the L.A. Times—“China Snarls Again at ‘Paper Tiger,’” by James Mann—shows Sha and others repeatedly taking the line of the button that the ABM was a paper tiger: “Using Mao’s words, it’s a paper tiger—fierce enough to frighten away cowards only.”)

Former Mayor Wang Daohan—China’s Chief Negotiator

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., the next day, in Shanghai, I met with the 84-year-old former mayor of Shanghai, Wang Daohan, who was charged with negotiating with Taiwan as chairman of the officially private ARATS. He was the counterpart of the Taiwanese organization SEF chaired by the 81-year-old Dr. C.F. Koo.

With Wang Daohan, China's Negotiator with Taiwan
With Wang Daohan, China's Negotiator with Taiwan [See larger]
The mayor felt that President Lee really wanted independence for Taiwan, as did some people in America. He felt that the “one country–two systems” strategy of China had been maligned. Taiwan could keep its armed forces and not pay any tax. And no officials would be sent to Taiwan. China would and should be patient with one exception: the declaration of independence. He agreed that a military threat by China would induce a provocation by Taiwan.

The mayor thought Lee might try to stay in power despite the election. He said Lee’s book tried to show that the Mainland was threatening Taiwan. He thought Lee’s desire for space was a step toward independence, and that Lee wanted to divide China into seven pieces.

I reminded the mayor that in ancient times, Vietnam had assuaged the demands of the Chinese emperor for sovereignty over Vietnam by paying tribute. What if Taiwan were willing to provide $1 per year in “rent” to China for the right to have quiet occupancy of Taiwan? He responded, in English, “good idea, good example, good suggestion”—something he repeated on another occasion. He put name cards in a copy of my book in three relevant chapters to remind himself where to find references to three ideas I had proposed.

When I asked if he had advisers who spoke English, and with whom the visitor could stay in contact, he mentioned two whom I would meet later at lunch and dinner. There was discussion of the mayor’s coming to Washington next year. I said, “After the election in Taiwan, we need a peace offensive.” The mayor said, “Good idea!”

After leaving the room, the visitor sent his translator back in with instructions to give the visitor’s name card to an adviser of the mayor who had been sitting in the background (this was Gu Ming). Discussion broke out anew. One person said: “Stone is not going to be president of Federation of American Scientists much longer.” But another said: “He is starting a new organization called Catalytic Diplomacy.” The mayor’s response was: “Wonderful, this is what we need.” And he told my interpreter: “We badly need his help; you can be the third conduit through which he could pass ideas.”

I was stunned by the success of all this. Given 20 minutes off before lunch, I went out and bought, as a souvenir of the meeting, a small silk rug with a peace dove in the middle of it.

The Red Carpet in Shanghai

The red carpet was rolled out, including lunch with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies and a dinner with the Taiwan Affairs Office of Shanghai and a visit to the third highest building in the world—the highest in Asia—with 88 floors. In its department store, I bought an example of Chinese scientific genius—a replica of a machine built in China 1,000 years ago to detect the direction from which earthquakes were occurring. It featured eight dragons, each with a small ball in its mouth and each pointing to a different direction of the compass. When the ball was found in the mouth of a frog below the dragon, it meant that this dragon was reporting that the earthquake was in the direction that dragon faced.

It was December 4 on arrival home—after a trip of ten days. Three days later, I was already making plans to return to Taiwan in January.

One encouragement was a handwritten letter from a Chinese insider who encouraged me to visit Taiwan again with these thoughts:

1) We won’t intervene with Taiwan’s election;

2) We are considering using force if Taiwan tried to change their Constitution, or work out a new Constitution such as a “basic law”;

3) If Mr. Chen Shui-bian ever won the election, the ties of the two sides would be even worse;

4) The superiors would like to open talks with the new president on the issues of reducing the tension between the two sides;

5) Try to promote the mutual visits of military forces between China and the United States after or before the election;

6). Try to catalyze the mutual visits of scientists.

Meanwhile, in late November, I received a letter from Taiwan’s chief negotiator, C.F. Koo, in response to my having left a copy of my book for him. He called it a “masterpiece” and said Chapter 28 about “possible reunification” was “particularly enlightening. You are to be commended for the work you have done.” So now I had warm relations with the chief negotiators on both sides of the strait.


On December 9, I received a note encouraging me to visit China again: “Your successful visit in Beijing and Shanghai ... was thought a really important and helpful visit by both our government officials and experts from Chinese NGOs.” The note indicated that high officials were thinking about what I might do on a next visit. A special report was being made on my next visit, and I was to expect a fax on “timing, schedule, order of places, peoples” I might meet on that trip.

I was being encouraged also on the Taiwanese side. The President’s Office in Taiwan sent me two New Year’s Eve statements made by the president and asked my opinion of them. I warned that the Mainland would not see the speech’s emphasis upon “cultural” factors as a sufficiently major change. I emphasized that the Mainland did seem interested in developing a dialogue with Lee Yuan Tseh and urged that this be considered.

Second Visit to Taiwan: January 7-14, 2000

On my second visit to Taiwan, January 7—14, 2000, everything started well. The morning of the first day, I met with Taiwan’s most important minister, Su Chi, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council. He was for incremental progress, wanted both sides to “pretend to ignore each other’s (hostile) statements,” and hoped that China’s negotiator, Wang Daohan, could visit Taiwan. I liked him.

With C.F. Koo, Taiwan's negotiator with China
With C.F. Koo, Taiwan's negotiator with China [See larger]
Three Hours with Taiwan’s Chief Negotiator: C.F. Koo

In the afternoon, I had an unprecedented three-hour meeting with C.F. Koo. Koo was a perfect example of a Confucian gentleman—very polite and experienced in putting people at ease. He was a wealthy man and a collector of Chinese artifacts. He was from a powerful family in Taiwan that had been close to the Japanese and then switched to the KMT when he was arrested in 1945.

He pulled at his cheek to emphasize the point and said, “It is all about face.” He said: “We can talk if they will agree to talk on the basis of parity.” When advised that they have done so by referring to “equality,” he said they have not done so “in their heart.” Koo said: “The Chinese people will do anything to save their faces but they do not want to resolve the real issue.” He thought they should agree to disagree.

He talked a bit as if negotiations would not be productive “until the status of Taiwan was resolved.” When I said “Taiwan is drifting out to sea”—a Chinese fear—he argued that this was not so. He wanted the United States to work against Chen Shui-bian winning the election and seemed upset that it was not. He feared an internal upheaval in Taiwan.

When he had been in China, he complained, there was “no table” for him to sit across. These were the kind of negotiating hang-ups that constantly bedeviled Taiwan-Mainland negotiations. The table would have indicated parity. Instead, he was seated in parity next to his host as, indeed, the Chinese conduct their meetings with all important foreigners.

He said that they had no answer when he told them that Taiwan was a country, although unrecognized—just as China was a country before it was recognized. He did not think my proposal on rent would fly because even symbolic payments might not be accepted in Taiwan. He said he hoped to see me again.

KMT headquarters
KMT headquarters [See larger]
Presidential Candidate James Soong

Next I met with the presidential candidate James Soong, who had split the KMT by forming his own party. This is what provided the three-way race in which Chen Shui-bian was running. Soong wanted to democratize the party and learn from the European Union. He called the two sides—Taiwan and Mainland—“relatively sovereign entities.” With regard to the key ideological issues, he thought the One China existed in the past and might in the future but did not now. He did not accept President Lee’s state-to-state relations but referred to “quasi state-to-state relations.”

On Monday, I had a meeting with the chairman of the DPP, Lin Yi-hsiung. This turned out to be quite important because it prepared the ground for points made to Chen Shui-bian. Lin was said to be on the “green” side of the DPP party. But still he thought people would not oppose a “common market” or, perhaps, a “commonwealth.” He said: “We want to solve functional matters first; the people want stronger ties. The rest can be decided later.”

I met over lunch with Hsiao Bi-khim, always a source of great wisdom.

On Tuesday, January 11, at 2 p.m., I met with Lee Yuan Tseh, a Nobel Prize winner and head of the Taiwanese Academy of Sciences, the Academie Sinica. He had worked at Berkeley for three decades, and talking to him I felt he was just like the other 37 Nobel Prize winners that the Federation had at the time. We were obviously on the same wavelength. Later in the day, I met with the campaign manager of the KMT candidate Jason Hu and, the next day, with a high official of the KMT, Deputy Secretary General Yu-ming Shaw. Still later, I met with Vice Foreign Minister David Tawei Lee.

Meeting with Presidential Candidate Chen Shui-bian

We met in a small room at campaign headquarters and Bi-khim translated. Chen Shui-bian said, if elected, he would go to China. I pointed out that this was a pretty empty promise because Beijing would not invite him with his present opposition to any One China. I suggested he say that, if permitted to visit China, he would “discuss” the issue.

I said there must be “some kind” of One China they could agree on. Observing that his DPP Chairman Lin had admitted that he could accept a common market and, perhaps, a commonwealth, I asked why Chen Shui-bian could not discuss the issue of One China with the Mainland to see if there were not some kind of One China on which both sides could agree. After all, I said (optimistically), the Mainland can hardly insist on your agreeing to One China before any discussions of what the phrase would mean. (In fact, this is exactly what the Mainland was doing.)

He called my approach creative visionary and helpful in breaking through the stalemate. He said I was a wise and great scientist and could be their adviser on cross-strait relations. He said, “My administration wants creativity and wisdom; we feel your remarks show that.”

He said he had three principles: cooperation, open up to each other, and competition. As Taiwan’s new leader, he would have to take a proactive role. The Koo-Wang talks were stalemated. And something new was needed to enable cross-strait relations. China’s views must be taken into consideration—assuming sovereignty is not hurt. He would be open to any creative solutions.

He said my ideas could be put into his inaugural statement, and he would invite me to hear him say them. I pulled out a piece of paper and started diagramming the political situation. I said: “Why wait until the inaugural? You could win undecided KMT voters by seeming to discuss some kind of One China. And the ‘deep green’ supporters of yours who did not want to discuss any kind of One China would have no place to go—they could hardly vote for the KMT.”

He said nothing more but he seems to have accepted that argument. On January 26, 13 days later, Jim Mann of the L.A. Times had an interview with Chen Shui-bian and reported:
Indeed, astonishingly, the DPP candidate said he was willing to talk with top Chinese leaders about their bottom-line demand that Taiwan’s future be settled under the rubric of One China.

“We do not exclude any possibility,” Chen said. “For example, what exactly does ‘one China’ mean? What’s its content? And what are the benefits of ‘one China’ for the Taiwanese people? I would be willing to hear from...(Chinese)President Jiang (Zemin) ... I think we can discuss one China.”
So it seemed that I had changed the line and, indeed, persuaded Chen Shui-bian not to wait until the inaugural to say so. I felt very engaged and heartened.

I returned home at the time of the Wen Ho Lee case in which Lee, a Los Alamos researcher, was being accused of espionage. I sent Lee Yuan Tseh, president of the Taiwanese Academy, a January 9 article from The New York Times saying that Wen Ho Lee had “remotely accessed the file he had (improperly downloaded) while he was visiting Taiwan.” He responded on January 24 that “so far as I know, Taiwan is neither engaged in the development of nuclear warheads, nor is there a plan to do it in the future.” But this issue came up later.


Invited to come to China for a second visit on cross-strait relations (the first was in late November), I decided to visit Taiwan from March 26 to March 30—the second week after the landmark election of the Independence Party candidate Chen Shui-bian. His election had become possible only because the KMT party had split, with a new party organized by a KMT defector, James Soong, and the older party proposing Lien Chan. Of special importance, in the last days before the election, Taiwan’s only Nobel Prize winner, Lee Yuan Tseh, had opted to support Chen Shui-bian in a press conference with some industrialists. (This seems to have provided the critical margin of victory.)

With Nobel Prize winner Lee Yuan Tseh
With Nobel Prize winner Lee Yuan Tseh [See larger]
At the last minute before the election, the Chinese premier, Zhu Rongji, had made a threatening speech, which predictably had been counterproductive and had further helped Chen Shui-bian. In the speech Zhu said “every possible treachery” was being used “to get the one who is for Taiwan independence to win,” and he warned the Taiwanese not to act on “impulse” or they will “regret it very much and it will be too late to repent.” (Note) (The Politburo had apparently asked Zhu Rongji to give this speech because it decided that an earlier speech by President Jiang Zemin—saying he did not want “war”—had been used to tranquilize Taiwanese voters into thinking there was nothing to fear from China.)

Chen Shui-bian had won the election for president with a popular vote of 37 percent against two KMT candidates, Lien Chan and James Soong—just as Bi-khim had predicted to me and as I had warned Vice Premier Qian in Beijing. It was an amazing vindication for the DPP and was, worldwide, deemed proof of the strength of democracy in Taiwan. A ruling party in power for 50 years had been overthrown in a free election without violence.

Fears of War

The rise to power of the Independence Party raised fears that its president might suddenly just “declare independence.” On March 16, The Washington Post had a news article typical of the period entitled “Taiwan: Crisis in the Making?” Former Defense Secretary William Perry was quoted, “We’re heading toward a collision course on this now.” CIA director George Tenet had testified that his agency saw “high potential” that the election could be “the catalyst” for “another military flare-up across the Taiwan Strait.” Interviews with more than three dozen U.S. officials and scholars “found a broad consensus that the next three to five years will be a period of heightened tensions and potential crises.” Chas. W. Freeman Jr., a former assistant secretary of defense, had said, “It’s very likely the United States and China are going to have a war on this issue.” And Henry Kissinger, talking of U.S. and China, worried that “we are talking ourselves into becoming each other’s principal enemy.” (Note)

A key factor in this election was Lee Yuan Tseh, president of the Academy of Sciences. As noted, Dr. Lee had joined some businessmen at a press conference about a week before the election and had, to the amazement of many, endorsed Chen Shui-bian. He considered it essential that the future economy of Taiwan be cleaned of corruption. The KMT was known to be corrupt, and he believed that Chen and the DPP would play a more honest role. Dr. Lee, the only Nobel Prize winner in a society that venerates education and learning, had rock-star visibility and enjoyed great respect. Even in advance of the election, newspapers were predicting that this endorsement was worth several points. If so, Dr. Lee determined Chen’s election.

Hsiao Bi-khim and Lee Yuan Tseh

I had decided to arrive in Taiwan a week after the March 20 election with a view to surveying the situation and then traveling to China. On March 27, I had breakfast with Hsiao Bi-khim, still director of the International Affairs for the DPP but soon to become, also, assistant to the president. A graduate of Oberlin and a brilliant analyst and speaker, she had performed better than her elders at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting on February 14 in New York. After the talk, I had accompanied her to the Midtown bus station and worked up a new idea: Chen should take representatives of the other two parties with him on his post-election visit to Beijing. The next day, I had written candidate Chen developing this idea. (Note)

That morning, the Taipei Times said Chen wanted Lee Yuan Tseh to join the government and lead an “inter-party team to handle cross-strait issues.” Chen said, “There is practically no room for mistakes.” (Note) During this period, the outgoing President Lee Teng-hui was promoting the notion that “special state-to-state” relations should exist between Taiwan and the Mainland. But the Mainland was promoting “one country, two systems” with Taiwan permitted to continue its way of life under a different system than the Mainland. (Note)

I arrived on a Sunday night but still managed to see Lee Yuan Tseh on Monday for three hours, in a meeting that included lunch. And all this was on a day when the entire press was asking whether he was, or was not, going to accept the premiership offered by President-Elect Chen Shui-bian—something he did not want to do.

Lee had been to China about 20 times and had received the first honorary degree of the Chinese Academy. (This, of course, was while he was at Berkeley.) More recently, he seems to have been the target of the phrase “betrayal” by the Chinese premier in Zhu Rongji’s effort to influence the election. The Chinese saw that Lee—one they considered a friend—had decisively influenced the election.

Actually, Lee’s motives were as pure as the driven snow. He thought China should make some friendly gesture to the Taiwanese. We had a most friendly chat and discussed Taiwanese politics and cross-strait relations. By the end of the week, he had, indeed, been made head of a group formulating cross-strait relations.

Meeting with the President-Elect

The next day, Tuesday, at 5 p.m., I had an hour with Chen Shui-bian himself, who was looking exhausted from the nonstop strain, as were his assistants.

He said he was “touched by your interest” in helping Taiwan. He said he had “taken your idea” about breaking the stalemate by saying he would “discuss” One China. And he had made it a “creative point” in his campaign and it had helped him. But, he said, “We don’t think the One China matter is a principle, just an issue.” Of course, he could not agree to anything for the Taiwanese; the people had to agree, so discussion was essential. He asked what further ideas I had for breaking the deadlock.

Asked whether he preferred a long-term interim agreement or moving straight to an agreement, he said it “depended on circumstances.” I mentioned some ideas. (One was the plan, earlier mentioned to China’s negotiator Wang Daohan, in which Taiwan would symbolically rent Taiwan from Beijing for $1 as an interim measure. Another was the plan in which Taiwan would give up the pointless annual campaign to enter the UN in return for China ceasing to veto Taiwan’s participation in a wide range of international and regional organizations and banks that do not require sovereignty for participation.)

He urged me to tell the Chinese that his offer of “willingness to discuss” was satisfactory and, indeed, had been suggested by me. (I said I was reluctant to assert parentage for such an idea, but I would say I agreed with him.) He said it was necessary to think and be creative, and he hoped I would come more often. He reiterated that he was not accepting One China as a precondition. He said I was an “excellent political adviser” and hoped I would attend his inaugural as a VIP.

He gave me a copy of his autobiography and inscribed it “Ambassador of peace across the strait.” Afterward I had tea with Bi-khim, who had translated, and she said she thought the UN campaign was too popular to be given up except in the assurance of a response from China.

Meeting with Vice President Lu

On Wednesday, I met with Vice President-Elect Annette Lu—a very tough graduate of Harvard Law School. At an early stage, I learned, she had told Chen Shui-bian that he should choose her as a running mate and that, if he did not, she would attack him and he would never be nominated at all. She had been a student of Jerome Cohen, and I showed her, in a picture in my book Every Man Should Try, that he had been on my delegation to China in 1972. (She said: “But you all look so young!”)

She spoke in banalities, such as “no one wants war; we need more creative wisdom and better language; let’s shake hands, meet and convey our….” To my surprise, she was not insistent about sticking with the campaign to enter the UN—she had started it—because she thought Taiwan entering the UN should occur after it had settled its issues with China. But when asked what was wrong, then, with my bargain to suspend the UN campaign in return for China’s sponsorship of Taiwan in many international organizations, she said: “But the UN campaign has become consensual now and is hard to give up; what can we do.” We parted in friendly fashion.

Other Meetings

On Thursday, I visited Bi-khim and gave her a copy of my letter to the president, typed early that morning, March 30. It urged “Triple Track Diplomacy.” (Note)

On this trip, I also talked to, or met with, the Deputy Secretary General of the KMT, experts on cross-strait relations, officials in the Mainland Affairs Council, wealthy Taiwanese businessmen, high officials in the Taiwan Foreign Ministry, and an important three-star general. I had an appointment with the defense minister, but on the day it was to have occurred, the defense minister was named premier and became much too busy. One important scholar and longtime acquaintance, Tien Hung-mao, had e-mailed me in Washington offering an appointment but, unfortunately, was planning to be in Washington exactly the week I was in Taiwan. This was particularly unfortunate because, by the time I got back from China, he had been named the new foreign minister.

The March 2000 Visit to China

On Friday, March 31, I flew directly to China via Hong Kong, leaving at about noon and arriving at 6 p.m.

In Beijing, I was told that I was the only one who predicted that Chen Shui-bian would win (In fact, I had not quite predicted it) and that their experts had said Lien Chan would win. I learned that people were thinking over what to do but were not sure. I was advised that I was considered a brilliant scholar who was the only one who can tell them what to do and that I am considered the only one who can help them contact Lee Yuan Tseh. It seemed that the Central Committee thought that Wang Daohan was too soft and that Jiang was making all the decisions. Observers thought that the disaster (war across the strait) will come in four to eight years. Further, people were angry about Chen being elected and blamed the Taiwan Affairs Office. Students were upset because they had heard bad things about Chen.

It seems that Beijing was more suspicious of me than Shanghai, which was the reverse of 1972, my first trip to China when Zhou En-lai’s Beijing was more friendly and the Gang of Four was controlling Shanghai.

Asked what would happen if Taiwan would not accept the One China principle, sources said that an interim agreement would be the next best thing, but they did not like the word “interim” because the Americans used it.

Washington Post’s Pomfret

On Friday, shortly after my arrival at the Beijing Grand Hotel, I received a phone call from a Washington Post reporter based in China named John Pomfret. How he knew where to find me, I was not sure and am not sure now. He said he knew whom I would be seeing (and mentioned some names) and said he believed I was working for the U.S. government. I laughed. I asked if we were speaking on the record and was reassured that we were not. I said that there was no story here and that I had learned in Washington that the best thing to do when reporters call is just to get off the phone, which is what I did.


By Saturday morning, Pomfret had blown this up into a major story, which The Washington Post ran under the headline “Envoy Reaches Out to Beijing for Taiwanese.” To give the story color, Pomfret invented a quotation (“Please allow me to fade back into the woodwork”) and said I had arrived “unannounced” (What on earth does that mean?) and had been reached at a “small” hotel. No one, obviously, would have given the “woodwork” quote on the record since it is self-defeating, and I certainly did not give this quote at all. Nor was I at a small hotel; the Beijing Grand is adjacent to Tiananmen Square, with the best location, and the oldest history, in Beijing. (Note)

The story produced a crisis in Taipei and Beijing and, certainly, a crisis for Catalytic Diplomacy. The Taipei government denied that it had sent an envoy, and the Beijing government denied it had received one. My hosts had a meeting and decided that the leak had come from Taiwan. (They said Taiwanese reporters sometimes followed people from Taiwan to their hotels.) I wrote to The Washington Post denying that I was anyone’s envoy and asserting that, by inventing quotes and violating off-the-record rules, the reporter was not maintaining the basic journalistic rules that the Post claimed to uphold. The Post edited out the charge that the reporter had acted unethically. (Evidently, it won’t print charges against its reporters unless you can “prove them”—or so Katherine Graham explained to me later at a party.) And I declined to permit the altered letter to run without the charge.

My hosts said the Taiwanese often come saying they represent Chen Shui-bian, but the Mainland was not sure they did. In part because they not know for sure if the Taiwanese were authorized, they rebuffed them. In my case, they said, they thought of me as “old friend” who had good ideas.

It is possible that the Taiwanese Presidential Office had tried to make some political hay out of my existence and interest in going back and forth across the strait. There is some indication that some had asserted, “We have a way to get our ideas across the strait” even though the Mainland was refusing to talk to the DPP until it stopped talking of independence.


Beijing’s refusal to give me a visa to come to China in pre-election February, I was told, stemmed from a fear that Chen Shui-bian supporters might use my entry as political proof that their election would not lead to war and that they had a “channel.” If so, I was innocent of all this. From my point of view, I was just a citizen-activist trying to help both sides reach agreement and was nobody’s envoy. Certainly, Catalytic Diplomacy was not the only organization playing this game—although, at this time, we may have been by far the most centrally placed. (Note)

I had not been able to travel to China in February, which would have been my normal pattern after a trip to Taiwan. No visa had arrived. Apparently, both Vice Premier Qian and Mayor Wang Daohan had wanted to see me in February, but others feared that admitting me might influence the March 20 election in Taiwan. (A similar problem arose in 2004 with regard to a visit to Iran; I was deported lest I influence their presidential election in favor of Rafsanjani rather than Ahmadinejad.)

I was told that Beijing had rejected my plan for a UN resolution that would reiterate a general principle against “changes in borders” because they had border rectification problems themselves. My hosts wanted to know Lee Yuan Tseh’s real thinking. They agreed that China might break up if the Taiwan issue was not settled.

I decided to write a letter to President Jiang Zemin.

Tang Shubei—Deputy Director of the Taiwan Affairs Office

Meanwhile, I met on Monday morning with a key policymaker for 90 minutes; it was Tang Shubei, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. He was often called the “chief negotiator” of China for Taiwan, issues much like Mayor Wang. (The difference was that Shubei was an official of the government and Wang was head of the nonofficial ARATS—which was supposed to negotiate with the nonofficial SEF of Taiwan.)

Tang felt China could not give up on the One China principle, but its content should not be limited and could be discussed. His personal opinion is that we should find a way to discuss the context.

"Combine Theory and Practice" button
"Combine Theory and Practice" button [See larger]
Catalytic Diplomacy goes nowhere without buttons advertising a slogan underlying its proposal. The discipline of reducing one’s main idea to a button—or a bumper sticker—is a healthy one. In this case, my button said on the top: “Combine Theory and Practice”; and on the bottom: “Don’t Pick Up A Rock Only To Drop It On Your Own Feet.”

Using the button as a talking point, I would explain that Chairman Mao’s ideas on combining theory and practice suggested focusing on practice. And the existing practice between Taiwan and China was quite successful (Taiwan liked its life and China liked the fact that no one was recognizing Taiwan). My view was that one should shape a theory of One China that would satisfy both sides and protect the existing reality. This seemed to go down well.

Shown my button, Tang said any theory should be tested. His compromise was that: We don’t give up the One China principle, but we discuss the content, and while we discuss it the other side does not oppose it—it’s a personal scenario. No provocation during discussions.

In particular, the people he had in mind who would not declare independence during the discussions were: Chen Shui-bian, Premier Tang, the foreign minister, and the chairperson for cross-strait relations. He specifically did not include the vice president, he said, because “we noticed that Chairman Lin said Madame Lu did not speak for the government.” (What they had noticed was, of course, that she would never agree to keep quiet.)

Asked about the proposal of trading Taiwanese entry into some international organizations in return for Taiwan ceasing to try to enter the UN, he said he had thought about this for some time and that, under the One China principle, this could be discussed for “some” organizations involving economic, cultural, and social issues. It had been discussed, he said, by Qian on January 28 and, also, in the White Paper. But such discussions would await Taiwan “either clearly committing to the One China principle or agreeing not to say anything provocative.”

I suggested that China was in a weak position and made other comments. He said, “To some extent, your comments makes sense. I have studied this problem for 12 years, and visited Taiwan twice but not met as high officials as you have.” We would like to see a high degree of autonomy in Taiwan.

He had noticed that, in this campaign, all candidates said they wanted to improve relations, so maybe the military exercises in 1996 had had some effect. He was concerned about my UN proposal that Taiwan be allowed to become an observer, because he felt observers in the UN could later become sovereign states. He talked of Palestine—I said it was not a sovereign state; he said they considered it one. He said that, according to the UN Charter, if a country sent two observers, it might become a member of the United Nations. In any case, the UN proposal would dramatically increase the space of Taiwan, which he was apparently against. Accordingly, he was willing to consider the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and others as organizations that Taiwan could become an observer to, but not the organizations under UN control. Later he tried to have this UN proposal removed from a draft of my letter to Jiang Zemin.

I said they sounded like China was moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic. He said they would like to make concessions and they had little time.


I prepared the letter to President Jiang from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., delivered it to my host Lin Di by 9:30 a.m., and in the evening he came to discuss it. He wanted some small changes and asked me, also, to delete the UN proposal, which I declined to do; this was the advice of the policymaker above, no doubt. The final letter is in this Appendix: (Appendix)

In discussing my upcoming meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, a host hinted that I should restrict myself to telling stories about the real feelings of the high Taiwanese officials, which, he said, was what I had been invited for. (I resented this, of course.) And in this way I should establish that I was really on their (China’s) side rather than—what he felt I was doing—telling each side I was really on their side. This was the only person who ever talked to me in this offensive way. (I responded to this insult by ignoring it and asking how many people were going to be in the meeting with the vice premier. He said I could ask for a private meeting if I wanted.) He also made a crack about “arrogance” and said, as an American, I should cool it.

At one point he offered me a meeting with Jiang Zemin if I would make clear which side I was on.

One host inquired, on my behalf, whether my book Every Man Should Try could be published in China. They said it could but that they would want some “modification of content” (deleting chapters about Sakharov was one thing they had in mind) and a payment of about $10,000—this was a payment for the translators, I think. I refused to have the work censored and showed a certain contempt for the whole idea of censoring it.


General Xiong Guangkai
General Xiong Guangkai [See larger]
During the week, I had a working dinner with Lieutenant General Xiong Guangkai, vice chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, and two of the leading generals at the China Institute for International Strategic Studies, General Chen Kaizeng and General Miao Shuchun. This was a wonderful dinner because all spoke English and we were able to go at it hammer and tongs. General Xiong is said to be the number-four person in setting Taiwan policy (after President Jiang Zemin, Vice Premier Qian Qichen, and former Shanghai Mayor Wang Daohan).

But I think he is even more important than that. He derives power from being the only general on the Leading Small Group on Taiwan Policy, where eight people make the policy. And because he speaks English well, he can brief President Jiang Zemin on what the barbarians really think—which he does in private meetings. Further, he is the secretary general of the Leading Small Group and hence sets the agenda.

General Xiong bears considerable responsibility for having erred in thinking that the People’s Liberation Army could fire its missiles at Taiwan in 1996 without bringing in American aircraft carriers. But the PLA has invented justifying rationales of dubious significance (“We kept their aircraft carriers back; we forced the Taiwanese to emphasize better relations in their next election”). I learned that China was worried that Lee Teng-hui, the current president, might have an unfortunate effect on Chen Shui-bian. (In this regard, they were eventually correct.)


With Vice Premier Qian Qichen
With Vice Premier Qian Qichen [See larger]
Before leaving Beijing, I had an hour’s scheduled appointment with Vice Premier Qian Qichen, and this hour expanded into two—something unprecedented, according to his staff, who marveled at the “patience” of the vice premier. This official is higher than the Chinese foreign minister, for he oversees not only the Foreign Ministry but also tourism and Taiwan.

I began by noting that “I confess, vice premier, that I like Chen Shui-bian very much and think he likes me, but I do not work for him. And, vice premier, I like you also but I am not working for you, either.”

Qian seated
Qian seated [See larger]
Discussions in China Are Not Private

Discussions with high officials in China are not done over a desk. They are “mini-audiences” in which one sits on a dais with the vice premier, and about a half-dozen scribes take notes. Because the audience is there, the vice premier says little. He is friendly and listens carefully, but I talk almost the whole time.

At one point, he said something about China entering the UN. I dared to correct him by explaining that I discussed this matter in detail with Premier Zhou En-lai in 1972.

Zhou had learned of China’s admission to the United Nations while waving goodbye to the aircraft of Henry Kissinger. He had called for a full investigation into why most of the Foreign Ministry had not predicted this success. The investigation concluded that the entry had been induced by Henry Kissinger’s visit to China!

The Foreign Ministry had recalled the rebellion of Chiang Kai-shek’s generals against Chiang Kai-shek many years before when they had taken him hostage. At that time, Chiang Kai-shek had dared to chastise them for “talking to the Communists”. But they knew that he himself was engaged in (secret) talks with the Communists.

With Vice Premier Qian Qichen
With Vice Premier Qian Qichen [See larger]
By analogy, Henry Kissinger was telling the U.N. to “avoid talking to the Communists” while, at the same time, they saw Henry on television talking to the Communists in Beijing. I advised the Vice Premier that he should have an investigation into why none of his advisers had predicted the election of Chen Shui-bian.

It is hard for the Chinese to take advice from Americans in a matter induced by American force. Without the American naval force, Taiwan would long ago have returned to China. Accordingly, in a letter that I left behind for the Chinese government, I told them the story of a vast empire that refused to take foreign advice and was destroyed because of it.

This was the case, 2,400 years ago, in which Darius the Third called his advisers together to ask what to do about the invading army of Alexander the Great. A Greek mercenary general gave him excellent advice concerning an indirect method of resistance but then added: “However, if you try to fight them directly, you will lose because your armies cannot fight worth shit.” At this insult to his army, Darius said: “Kill this man.” And as the general was dragged off to be killed, he shouted: “Great King, on this day you have lost your empire”—which turned out to be true.

In fact, the similarities go very deep, because Persia, like China, was ruled from the top whereas Greece, like Taiwan, was democratic. Larger autocratic entities are often more fragile than they look. And, of course, in this case, the United States is backing the small democracy.

In China, I suggested that Chen Shui-bian was not a disaster but could be the best thing that ever happened to cross-strait relations. Being an Independence Party candidate, he might be able to bring the Taiwanese people along to support reunification of some kind. He had agreed to “discuss” the One China policy, had accepted the Republic of China Constitution (a One China Constitution) and had left the DPP Executive Committee to rule as president of “all the people.” I handed out Chinese-language biographies of Chen; the leadership knows little about him.

Indeed, although there is a Taiwan Affairs Institute in every city and village, it appears these institutes dare not say, or even think, anything at odds with official policy—hence they cannot predict events that require giving full faith and credence to DPP attitudes or effectiveness. As residents in a monastery attribute all bad things to “the work of the devil acting in mysterious ways,” these institute researchers attribute all bad things in Taiwan policy to “the work of President Lee Teng-hui acting in mysterious ways.”

In the case at issue, the Chinese simply repeat, ad infinitum, that Taiwan must accept the One China principle. They feel uncomfortable when you point out—as I did with the vice premier—that this is akin to pointing a gun at a woman and saying: “We want to settle this peacefully but we are growing impatient; you must accept the principle of marrying me and, if you do, anything else—timing and place—can be discussed.” This is not part of a negotiation but an ultimatum. And a real problem is that China may get itself so excited that it cannot hold back from threatening implausible violence. It was once said that European wars occurred when European diplomats lied to the press and then believed what they saw written about themselves.

I presented my UN proposal and handed over the letter I had prepared for President Jiang to the vice premier. I pointed out that the Taiwanese people could not be intimidated because they were Chinese and, after all, the Chinese people could not be intimidated. So China should not continue having Zhu try to intimidate Taiwan.

I asked why China seemed to be afraid to open negotiations without prior acceptance by the Taiwanese of the One China principle; after all, the Chinese negotiators could be depended upon not to accept anything inconsistent with One China—so what was wrong with discussing it? I pointed out that Chen Shui-bian had accepted the ROC name—which was a One China name—so what is wrong with discussing One China without Chen Shui-bian accepting it first? I asked if there were any problems with using the phrase “Greater China” instead of One China.

The vice premier was surprised that I was leaving for Shanghai and, in answer to my question, said, “I have no other ideas, unfortunately, except the One China principle.”


Besides talking to friends and some other contacts in Beijing, I went to Shanghai and had a number of interesting meetings—including one at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies. I stayed at the Peace Hotel. Of special interest was meeting Zhou Mingwei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shanghai Municipal Government. He later became a key official of the Beijing-sited Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, and we worked together.

With Zhou Mingwei
With Zhou Mingwei [See larger]
My Beijing hosts were so excited by the success of my meetings that they told my guides to buy an expensive crystal globe with a world map etched into it standing on a hand on which it rotates and to give it to me. The implication was that I held the world in my hands.

In fact, I have deleted some extraordinary comments made from someone I trust about the way in which my visits have been viewed. The point is that, for a variety of reasons, I am being taken sufficiently seriously that I worry a lot about the advice I give.

I did not see Wang Daohan on this trip to Shanghai; he sent word that it was not through any fault of mine. Evidently, things he had said at a closed-door meeting of March 29 in Shanghai had been leaked and used to restrict his contact with foreigners. In the alleged Chinese document, he was supposed to have called for “coolness and adaptability” in a “battle of wisdom” but also urged war preparations. He had reportedly said that Chen sent an “unidentified secret envoy to meet him following the presidential vote.” But this was not me; I arrived a week later. (Note) According to the Taiwanese press, Wang’s “dovish” faction was having its problems. And the mood in hawkish China was indicated when this document alleged that Lee Yuan-tseh had CIA connections—which he had long ago denied. (Note)


I got back to Washington on Saturday, April 8, and began preparing a letter for Chen Shui-bian, which I handed to Bi-khim on Wednesday, April 12, when she was in Washington. I also sent a message of June 15, 2000, to Chen Shui-bian listing three proposals. (Note)

I am disturbed now, on writing this book, that this letter of suggestions on which I had sounded out the Chinese with, I felt, some success, did not, inexplicably, include the one proposal made in China to start discussions! This was Tang Shubei’s suggestion that talks could begin if the leaders of Taiwan agreed, during the talks, not to call for independence. I am still upset about this.

Kenneth Lieberthal
Kenneth Lieberthal [See larger]
I did relay this idea two months later—the “No Call for Independence” proposal was listed as point two of four “On Getting Talks Started”—a memo prepared for Chen Shui-bian on June 20 right before I left for Taiwan. (Note) By this time, however, as will be seen, Chen Shui-bian was prepared to go even farther down his own path toward independence.

On April 11, I was assured that my letter to President Jiang had “reached its destination.” After meeting with some administration officials to suggest some ideas (Ken Lieberthal at the National Security Council (NSC) and Morton Halperin, director of policy planning at the State Department), I left on May 1 for a trip to Iran (to discuss improving relations) and Russia (to discuss ABM issues and START disarmament issues).


From June 22 to June 29, my wife, B.J., and I visited Taiwan to determine what progress could be made in cross-strait relations with China before the August meeting of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party at the Beidaihe summer resort where, traditionally, important decisions are made.

The day before our arrival, President Chen Shui-bian had given a one-month-after-inaugural anniversary press conference. In it, he asked: “Why couldn’t (both sides) aspire to find the genuine meaning of One China that is acceptable to both sides?”

I was worried about this trip. The publicity surrounding The Washington Post article calling me an “envoy” had caused such a media storm in Taiwan and Hong Kong that I had lost my anonymity. The Taiwan Foreign Ministry had warned me that there was high press interest. Two different newspapers (Taipei Times and China Post) had editorialized against secret envoys—my name was mentioned in them as an unconfirmed secret envoy. (Note)

Furthermore, certain of my communications to Taiwan—and to China also—had not been answered in the normal fashion, and I was quite worried that The Washington Post article had done serious damage to my operation. These communications failures turned out to have explanations. And the press, at least for the first few days, let me alone—more about this later since, in the end, a series of stories was written about me on my last day in Taiwan.

President Chen had taken a surprisingly moderate position on cross-strait relations during the election campaign, saying that he would “discuss” the One China principle with China (albeit not as a “principle” but as an “issue,” whatever that meant). This readiness to discuss positions had helped him during the campaign, since a main vulnerability of his Democratic Progressive Party, in the eyes of the voters, was whether its election would bring war.

I had said nothing about being the source of this idea. But not long into the week in Taiwan, I learned that sources in the Presidential Office had been gossiping that I was the person responsible for the president’s decision to agree to “discuss” One China. They further stated, falsely, that I had earlier “arrived from Beijing” with assurances that, if this decision were taken, China would open discussions. According to the gossip, I had been misinformed or China had “reneged.”

In November, I had predicted to Vice Premier Qian Qichen, the key official in Taiwan policy in China, that China would like Chen Shui-bian a lot better than it liked the outgoing President Lee Teng-hui. Lee Teng-hui was, in fact, a troublemaker from China’s point of view. In particular, his speech at Cornell was provocative. Worse, he had suggested that “state-to-state” relations between Taiwan and China were in order. (More recently, a new book of his had openly called for independence for Taiwan.)

But Chen Shui-bian, I had argued, would be strongly motivated to try to improve relations with China, because if this failed his party could never become a majority party. (Most Taiwanese wanted the status quo, as the polls showed, and do not want to risk calls for independence—which is one reason why Chen Shui-bian won election only as a minority president, with 39 percent of the vote).

Both Chen Shui-bian’s election and his post-election attitudes had confirmed my prediction. His inaugural speech left American officials vastly relieved. In particular, it said:
The people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same ancestral, cultural, and historical background. While upholding the principles of democracy and parity, building upon the existing foundations, and constructing conditions for cooperation through good will, we believe that the leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a future ‘one China.’

I fully understand that, as the popularly elected 10th-term president of the Republic of China, I must abide by the Constitution, maintain the sovereignty, dignity and security of our country, and ensure the well-being of all citizens. Therefore, as long as the Chinese Communist Party regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push for the inclusion of the so-called “state-to-state” description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regard to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, there is no question of abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification and the National Unification Council.


In 1992, after quite considerable exchanges between the two sides, some kind of understanding was reached that permitted subsequent discussions between ARATS for the Mainland and SEF for Taiwan, the foundations of the two sides charged with these duties. The Mainland had been insisting on a return to this understanding, dubbed the 1992 Consensus, as a condition for beginning talks. But what was the consensus to which the two sides were to return? This was the rub. Each side had its spin. In his June 20 press conference, Chen Shui-bian said, “If we are to say there was an agreement, then it was that we ‘agreed to disagree.’”

American observers were happy to see that the new DPP administration was not going to call for independence. The American observers were still further relieved to hear Chen Shui-bian talking politely and in a controlled fashion. And, indeed, Chen Shui-bian was consulting closely with the United States officials—which is more, one told me, than Lee Teng-hui ever did.

Accordingly, we saw the odd result of an Independence Party victory that, nevertheless, improved Taiwan-American relations even within the executive branch. And the DPP victory and the peaceful transition further excited the sympathy and admiration of congressional observers.

In response to these various comments and overtures by Taiwan, the Mainland had simply announced a wait-and-see policy and had declined to mention Chen Shui-bian in its media, simply referring to the “Taiwan authorities” or the “new Taiwan leader.” (A highly ranked Chinese official later told me that the wait-and-see policy was, really, designed to provide time for the Chinese hawks to cool off.) China then began a series of exchanges with persons supporting the One China policy. And it began party-to-party contacts between the CPP and all parties except the DPP.


On arrival, it appeared that the KMT had imploded. A KMT official explained that Lien Chan had shown no leadership, and that people were fleeing the party in droves. It was hard, he thought, to imagine the KMT winning without Lee Teng-hui and without the benefits of incumbency when it could not win in 2000 with both of these.

Over dinner, a DPP aide said that KMT had no leader now and no Taiwanese supporters (as opposed to voters descended from Mainlanders) and was collapsing. But he feared that everyone was pushing Taiwan toward China.

According to a source, a Presidential Office official had spread the word during the election campaign that I was an agent of DPP in an effort to give the impression that the DPP was able to deal with Beijing—a vulnerable point in its armor—by showing it had at least some operative. But efforts to find where this rumor appeared in print failed. (So I am not sure this ever happened.) But it could explain a view in Beijing that I should not be allowed to visit Beijing in February before the election, lest my visit determine the election through some newspaper article confirming that the Taiwanese had a channel to Beijing.

The whole question of secret envoys was further inflamed when the Taiwanese press identified two persons who had been secret envoys for former President Lee Teng-hui.

At about this time a new appointee, Tsai Ing-wen, had been bedeviled by questions in parliament as to whether she was “Taiwanese” or “Chinese”—a popular question. This question was difficult to answer for Taiwanese officials because the former suggested “independence” and the latter suggested “reunification.”

A main contact of mine being out of town, I called a younger assistant and discovered to my satisfaction that he had been promoted to a very high position close to the president. We had a helpful lunch. He mentioned the importance given to my views, and I decided to send about ten suggestions for the improvement of cross-strait relations that I had been working on. He said he would translate them for the president.

Reading the Press

Although I followed the Taiwan press each morning on the Internet, I normally devote the first few days of my visits to reading the last few months’ newspapers thoroughly so as to be sure I have the best possible feel for what is happening.

It looked like former President Lee Teng-hui might move to help the DPP against KMT’s Taipei Mayor Ma, who was the only plausible opponent for the KMT against Chen Shui-bian in the next election. It appeared that Lee has moved into a more strident independence position for Taiwan than even Chen Shui-bian.

Indeed, the Mainland analysts often believed that Lee Teng-hui consciously tried to throw the election away from his KMT to the DPP. In the first place, Lee Teng-hui had never democratized the party itself—just the Taiwanese election process. Accordingly, he was able to dictate the party nominee, and he chose a weaker nominee that he preferred to a stronger one he hated—Lien Chan over James Soong.

Second, a week before the election, when it was clear to insiders, despite the ban on polling close to the election, that KMT would finish third, the issue must have arisen of “strategic voting”—to whom should KMT voters shift their vote? Many post-election KMT demonstrators were furious that they had not been told to throw their votes to People’s First Party (PFP) candidate James Soong, who lost by only two percentage points, and who might have kept the presidency away from DPP. Instead, Lee Teng-hui is rumored to have done some things that signaled his satisfaction with DPP (e.g., he attended a DPP fundraiser).

The papers also showed that the new foreign minister, one with whom I had met in earlier trips in his academic capacity, was calling for “human rights diplomacy.” He was also calling for a diplomatic truce with China in the luring, back and forth, of small countries willing to recognize one or the other. The head of our American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Raymond Burghardt, was quoted as saying that the People’s Republic of China would attack if it thought Taiwan was slipping away. And Vice President Lu was speaking so strongly and erratically that the joke was: “Every time she opens her mouth, everyone around her holds his breath.”


On June 27, while I was in Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian seemed to have accepted the 1992 Consensus in a form that should have been enough to get the talks started. He did it without warning in a meeting with a group of American visitors who had not asked about it. But by the evening, there had been a half-step backward to these two steps forward. (Note)

This issue started, really, with a number of signals from the Mainland—some provided to me but no doubt to others also—that a minimal but acceptable signal from Chen Shui-bian for the initiation of dialogue would be for him to announce his acceptance of the 1992 Consensus. This was based on the view in Beijing that China and Taiwan had orally agreed, in 1992, that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait maintain the principle of one China.” Renewing this consensus, Beijing said, would make possible the renewal of talks.

On Wednesday morning, June 28, the day before I was scheduled to leave Taiwan, Taiwan News had a big black headline: “Chen: Willing to Accept 1992 Consensus.” Chen had met the previous morning with a group of American visitors from the Asia Foundation and, without any demand or question from them, had told them “the new government is willing to accept the previous consensus of the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, which is ‘one China, each with its own interpretation.’” This the news reported, had been called "the 1992 Consensus."

Chen’s decision, perhaps because it was so momentous, was taken without much consultation; consultation in Taiwan means, inevitably, public controversy. It is significant that it had not been included in the very major press conference of June 20 just six days before. Further, I had met with two of Chen’s highest advisers the day before (Lee Yuan-Tseh and Chiou I-jen), and they seemed not to have seen this coming—they certainly did not tell me what had already taken place that morning. (Note)


Others had learned of it earlier, however, and a strong backlash seems to have developed. Accordingly, that evening the president’s office put out a release, which was explained in Thursday’s Taiwan News. It had been prepared by his new Mainland affairs chairperson, Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai said that Taiwan had a different view of what the consensus was and, it seemed, Chen Shui-bian was being interpreted as having accepted only the Taiwan version of the consensus between the two sides.

According to Tsai, “‘One China, each with its own interpretation’ was Taiwan’s way of describing the process by which the two sides of the strait agreed in 1992 to their own interpretations of the ‘One China question.’” This, she said, should not be confused with China’s version of the consensus. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had made clear on Tuesday, she said, that its version of “One China, each with its own interpretation” has always been explained by what it calls the ‘One China principle.’” And Taiwan had never agreed, she said, to a consensus on the One China principle.

In particular, the One China principle, as China saw it, required that Taiwan be part of that China and that the PRC be the only legal government that can represent China—something to which Taiwan could not agree.

Meanwhile, Tang Shubei, the number-two person in the ARATS negotiating team and the principal deputy for policy in the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, had said, “The consensus of the two negotiating bodies was ‘One China’ but the content has not been discussed.” (Presumably if there had been no discussion of the content then there could be no consensus that each could use its own interpretation.)

Accordingly, the two sides were agreeing to a consensus with slightly differing opinions about what the consensus had been. One side (Taiwan) said it was agreed that each side could have its own interpretation, whereas China was saying that it had not been agreed that each side could have its own interpretation—instead the content of one China had not been discussed.

This difference could easily have been bridged if China had wished to do so. For one thing, either or both of the two sides could release the full text of all exchanges and notes taken during these discussions. Indeed, Chen Shui-bian had said in his June 20 press conference that both sides should work together to solve the future One China problem “based on the existing foundation” and that “regarding the existing foundation, I want to emphasize that any results and consensus reached in past contacts, dialogue, or negotiations conducted between Taipei’s Strait Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait in Beijing constitute such a foundation.”

Thus a “Pentagon Papers”–type solution would be just to release all the exchanges, take them as the foundation, and move on from there. This could finesse differences in interpretation as to what these exchanges meant. (I had made this suggestion to each side.) This approach is completely consistent with a proposal made by C.F. Koo, the Taiwanese chief negotiator, that each side should return to the 1992 Consensus with everyone free to determine what that consensus meant.

In sum, Chen Shui-bian had gone as far as he could as a leader of Taiwan. Polls showed that 75 percent did not want him to accept the One China principle, and only 7.8 percent said that he should. And he had gone farther, evidently, than the traffic within his party could bear.


There was some alarm. One Taiwanese analyst thought that China would wait about six months and then, if it decided that the One China principle was not going to be accepted, would start destabilizing measures. He thought there were many such measures that it could undertake.

He said that Chen Shui-bian had asked China, immediately after the election, to invite Lee Yuan Tseh to the Mainland to assure officials that nothing foolish was going to be done. The Mainland had said that this would be impossible unless Lee Yuan Tseh publicly supported the One China principle.

It turned out that the leak in the Taiwan press of remarks by ARATS leader Wang Daohan on Taiwan policy occurred because Taiwanese intelligence purchased the remarks on the Mainland and then leaked them to a Taiwanese newspaper. (This undermining of a senior figure interested in solving the Taiwan problem, by making his remarks public, was foolish. I complained strongly about it to a high official in the Taiwan Foreign Ministry.) Wang is said to have offered his resignation over the leak.

I met for a few hours with the president of the National Defense Management College and his staff to discuss military issues and with young staffers of the DPP to discuss political issues. A high government official came to my room to discuss my ideas and urged me to call him on any return visit to provide some more. I also met with Raymond Burghardt of the American Institute for Taiwan.


So far, there had been no mobbing of me by the press. The Foreign Ministry had, I supposed, acted on its suggestion that they treat my visit as “private.” It was alarming, however, to see, in reading back issues of newspapers, how much attention had been given to my earlier trip. I had been in the front pages twice, on April 2 and 3, and Chen Shui-bian’s accurate denial that I was an “envoy” had been received somewhat grudgingly.

I met in the Foreign Ministry with a high official and had a cordial talk. I made three suggestions, and the official said, very sincerely, “You always have some concrete suggestions for us that are simple and clear and we, who are working 12 hours a day, simply do not have time to think about these larger issues.” (Note)

But the next morning, while meeting with an important former official, I was disturbed to hear him note that he had read a lot about me in the morning newspapers. I had brushed by two reporters at the door of my elevator when I left the Foreign Ministry. It turned out that the schedule of Deputy Minister David Lee had been posted for the press to see; thus the reporters had been able to accost me by prearrangement, and David Lee had spoken rather freely. (Some months later, he referred to all this as “just a joke”.)

But later, reading translations of three Chinese language newspapers, it seemed not too bad. In China Times, I was described as refusing comment, but the official had confirmed that I had denied being a secret envoy and that, indeed, “One should not look for scientists to be secret envoys because they are creative and they do not wish their comments to be restricted.” (Note) But Liberty Times, not using quotation marks, made up some suggestions it said I had made to Lee Yuan Tseh (e.g., “Taiwan need not respond to Beijing’s ‘One China.’ Instead it should take the initiative to propose topics for negotiations.”). None of this would look good in China.

The longest article was in the Chinese Daily and was entitled: “Stone Denies He Is the Envoy for Two Sides; Looking at the Relationship Between Taiwan and China from the Scientific Angle. Hoping to Stimulate Both Sides to Think Alternatively.” It quoted David Lee as saying:
Stone is a scientist; he has very unique insights into things and is very different from politicians. Therefore high officials on both sides are willing to listen to him and are receptive to his ideas. And they can talk with him for a long time. For example, last time when he went to meet with Vice Premier Qian, he talked for two hours. Qian’s secretary was very surprised that the meeting was that long. His meeting with General Xiong was over an hour.” (Taiwan/China Daily article.6.28.00)
I had earlier been warned that discussion in the newspapers of my work could be fatal to my efforts. Later communications from the Mainland suggested, however, that these articles had not done any permanent harm. I continued walking a tightrope in trying to maintain the confidence of both sides.

Our return was uneventful. But this was the one trip of 40 on which I had taken B.J., and she developed a rash. It seems to have been an allergic reaction to the dragon fruit that the hotel had put in the hotel room. This fruit, a relative of the cactus family, is unknown in America.

Subsequent Meeting at Our Home with Yang Jiemian

On August 7, we held a dinner meeting with an analyst visiting from Taiwan. He felt DPP was in some trouble politically and that, in the countryside, DPP was as corrupt as KMT.

Dinner at Stone's home for Yang Jiemian who is to the left of Robert McNamara
Dinner at Stone's home for Yang Jiemian who is to the left of Robert McNamara [See larger]
On August 9, we threw a dinner party in our home for a visiting delegation of Mainland Chinese led by Yang Jiemian of the Shanghai Institute on Strategic Studies. Dr. Yang is the brother of the vice foreign minister and a close adviser to ARATS leader Wang Daohan. Invited also were Robert McNamara, former secretary of defense, and Alton Frye, then chairman of Catalytic Diplomacy and a wide-ranging expert on foreign policy issues. At one point I asked Yang, “Why is China not talking to Lee Yuan Tseh?” He said, “That is a good question.” And this exchange may have led him to get permission subsequently to ask me, in Shanghai, “How should we get in touch with Lee Yuan Tseh?”

So as of summer 2000, the work continued to go well, and my entree on both sides was stable or rising. An important and well-informed official in Taiwan had said: “We owe a lot to you.” Meanwhile, a Chinese embassy employee in Washington told me, “Your stock in China is remarkably high.”

These reactions seem a tribute to the effectiveness of the concepts underlying Catalytic Diplomacy. In particular, giving honest, quiet, sophisticated advice, of a political-bureaucratic kind, to officials about what they, as individuals, or their bureaucracy, as a bureaucracy, and their governments, as governments, might usefully do was working.

Back to top