Eighteen Months of BrainstormingFor the next 18 months, in six trips to Taipei and Beijing, from November 2000 to March 2002, Stone continues to lobby both sides to get some discussion going—now as a more public figure and with less anonymity because of a Washington Post article. In Beijing, a Chinese official calls Stone “unique” in providing not only ideas but supporting memoranda; in Washington, provoked by a Taiwanese questioner at a press conference, he says Stone’s efforts are “very highly appreciated” by him and his colleagues.
In November 2000, Stone begins working on the idea of Taiwan as an “observer” in the UN, following ideas of the late Professor Louis Sohn. Beijing’s authorities appear to have ruled that all links to Chen Shui-bian be cut, but Stone seems to be considered as a “mediator.” In December 2000, he delivers a letter to Vice Premier Qian Qichen urging that the talks themselves be based on the One China principle without regard to the preferences of the negotiators on the Taiwan side—it was explained how both sides might be able to accept this.
In May 2001, Stone meets with the highest leaders in Taiwan, including Chen Shui-bian and James Soong, and survives some related press articles reminding the public that he was once called an “envoy.” In a personal meeting with Chen Shui-bian, he proposes cultural exchanges of officials from Taiwan and the Mainland but gets no reaction. The next day, over a TV hookup to the Council on Foreign Relations, in answer to a question, Chen explains—as Stone advised him to—that Stone is “not an envoy.” Chen calls Stone just a “person of many good ideas” whom we welcome hearing from.
In a four-hour dinner-meeting with China’s Vice Minister Zhou Mingwei, Stone reviews a long letter to Qian Qichen and asks that it be delivered. The letter warns China against “startling” outsiders with some militant act lest it catalyze a joining-together of the United States and Russia against China. It describes the cultural roots of the United States and draws conclusions about U.S. attitudes toward retaliation. It suggests that the effort to contain the DPP with a peace offensive has failed and gives reasons why China should start talks soon. It recommends dealing with Chen Shui-bian, calls for cultural integration, counsels patience, and makes suggestions about the ABM Treaty and arms sales. It recommends ways of disarming U.S. hostility.
In March 2002, neither side is much interested in starting talks. Instead, Chen Shui-bian is trying to get permission to make an unprecedented visit to Washington to give a speech at the National Press Club, all this during the struggle in Beijing over succession of a new president. In Shanghai subsequently, however, Stone conceives the “jujitsu” idea—and later proposes it in Beijing—that China preempt this trip to Washington by inviting Chen to China for a cultural visit.
TAIWAN AND CHINA AWAIT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
The Trip to Taiwan
I arrived in Taiwan on the evening of Thursday, November 30, 2000. The Mainland was now embarked on a pincer-movement peace offensive with Taiwan in which it encouraged talks with all parties and officials who accepted the One China principle while freezing out Taiwan’s President, Chen Shui-bian, who obviously did not. Meanwhile, the parties in opposition to Chen Shui-bian’s Democratic Progressive Party—including the once-ruling KMT party and the new People’s First Party—were pretending to try to recall Chen Shui-bian in anger at his decision not to build an atomic plant for energy.
As a high KMT official explained to me, politics in Taiwan is much more difficult than politics in the United States because the issue of “face” is overlaid on issues of substance—and agreement must be reached on both. For example, most of the anger at Chen Shui-bian’s decision to cancel the nuclear plant was generated by the fact that the announcement was made a few hours after an important meeting between Chen Shui-bian and the head of the KMT, Lien Chan. Thus the action was assessed as disrespectful to the KMT because of the allegedly offensive timing.
Watching Taiwan, the Mainland political officials may now be learning more about democracy in Taiwan than they wish to know; there can be little doubt that many such officials will decide they like democracy less as they see the Taiwanese gridlock. And the gridlock seems likely to persist.
Politics in Taiwan is also mean. Vice President Annette Lu was accused by Journalist magazine of trying to spread the rumor, gleefully, that Hsiao Bi-khim, a 29-year-old female presidential adviser, was having an affair with the president. Lu proceeded to sue the magazine. And Taiwanese politics is full of conspiracy theory. For example, incredible rumors swirled that Chen Shui-bian was trying to get Lu in trouble by spreading rumors about himself!
As I arrived, Bi-khim had been urged not to quit and had been sent to Europe for a trip. On hearing of my arrival, the president sent his regards, and in a private meeting with a high official I presented a new idea for starting talks with the Mainland and sent the president a note describing it.
The note warned that the Mainland was unlikely to start talks with him unless he was in a strong political position and was repeating the One China principle firmly and repeatedly over time. After all, the Mainland saw in the disarray of the DPP administration the attractive possibility that the DPP might be decisively defeated in the next election. And having been tricked repeatedly by previous President Lee Teng-hui, it was in no mood to be tricked again. [This note of December 2000 is somehow lost.]
Both Sides Are Awaiting Political Developments
Worst of all, as subsequent talks on the Mainland revealed, the Mainland’s central government officials were involved in a delicate leadership transition themselves. If President Jiang Zemin did anything in Taiwan affairs that opened him to criticism, it could upset his plans to (1) install Hu Jintao as his successor and (2) install himself as head of the Military Affairs Council in his post-retirement career in 2002. So really, presidents in both Taipei and Beijing were looking at elections a year or two off while they engaged in largely show discussions of cross-strait relations.
The Mainland’s strategy was to engage in a kind of united front activity in which they tried to help, as friends, the “enemy of their enemy.” Meanwhile, they sought to avoid attacking Chen Shui-bian directly in their press. They simply demanded that the “Taiwan authorities,” unnamed, accept the One China principle.
Cross-strait relations had a religious quality to it. Imagine the Mainland as run by Catholics dealing with a Protestant uprising in a distant province. The Mainland demands, as a price of opening talks, that the leader of the province renounce his previous association with Protestantism and affirm that he now adopts Catholic beliefs. The Mainland officials plan, subsequently, to examine his statements of belief carefully in the light of Catholic doctrine, and if any deviation is found, to denounce him as “insincere.”
The original doctrinal demands were that Chen Shui-bian accept the so-called 1992 Consensus in which, the Mainland alleges, the two sides agreed that there was only One China. In fact, to the extent that this agreement was ever reached, it was only because the Taiwan negotiating team at that time represented the KMT party, which considered, according to its traditional doctrine, that it still owned China itself. In other words, for the followers of Chiang Kai-shek to say there was only One China was not so hard—they believed the civil war was not yet over and they owned the One China.
In my April 2000 trip to the Mainland, I was urged by Mainland officials to persuade President Chen Shui-bian to accept the 1992 Consensus, which, it was felt, would not require him to mention One China directly but only the consensus. By November, however, it was clear that China interpreted the 1992 Consensus as the One China principle itself. Beijing’s position had hardened.
In fact, the Mainland was using the One China principle as a kind of fortress wall, behind which it could lob verbal attacks at Chen Shui-bian. Knowing he could not accept it without political death, Beijing was not forced to consider making the difficult decisions that negotiations would entail.
Examining, in Taipei, five months of newspaper back issues since my last visit, I learned more of why President Chen Shui-bian retreated after announcing his acceptance of the 1992 Consensus. His national security advisers, the papers disclosed, had called on him and insisted that he had gone too far. Thus, during my last visit, Chen Shui-bian had tried to break out of his situation.
The Long-Awaited Taiwanese Consensus: What Was It?
On the day after my arrival, I had a private lunch and long conversation with Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan Tseh. After the election, he had been charged with finding a consensus in Taiwanese politics on the One China issue. The week before my arrival, he had released a consensus that, he obviously felt, had been achieved by a miracle.
On the other hand, on the morning of our lunch, the Beijing press spokesman had denounced his hard-won consensus as “neither fish nor fowl” and said that Chen Shui-bian was “faking peace.”
The KMT Struggles for Renewal
I dined with a well-positioned KMT official. He said KMT was going to cut back staff sharply. But another said the KMT was locked into a policy of supporting all who were laid off. Thus, a forest of think-tanks was being organized to give work to those fired. And it was not clear what expenses would be saved. The KMT, it was said, has a budget 40 times larger than that of the DPP, and its officials are paid about three times more. Its staff works under a seniority system that leaves less-competent employees directing the more competent, and this discourages new staff. Remaking the party has been left to Jason Hu, former foreign minister and now the party spokesman. But he was distracted by plans to run for mayor of his hometown.
Indeed, another very credible source reported the explosive story that the KMT had lost 99 percent of all its immense assets during the eight-year reign of President Lee Teng-hui. According to this source, the assets turned over to President Lee in 1992 had been about $980 billion Taiwanese, but the assets turned over by President Lee to his successor Lien Chan were only about $8 billion (about $1 billion U.S.).
I had earlier discovered that a friend, the then 95-year-old former Harvard Law School professor Louis Sohn, had written an important article on Taiwan. The article had concluded that Taiwan should settle for the same kind of permanent observer status in the UN that Switzerland had, rather than try for permanent membership. In Taiwan, I finally located, after some months of trying, the law school dean of Soochow University, Cheng Chia-jui, who had investigated, in quiet discussions with the Mainland, whether a relevant agreement on “international space” might be possible. We had useful discussions, and professor Sohn’s article was, later, presented to a high official in China.
There was great anxiety in Taiwan. Pessimism now outranked optimism, and people wanted to leave. The U.S.-Canada region was their first choice; Australia-New Zealand came next. To general horror, it had been discovered that the third was Mainland China. Shanghai was now sophisticated enough to attract Taiwanese.
Three High-Ranking KMT Officials
In a meeting with a high-ranking KMT official, I learned that there were real fears that Lien Chan going to China might hurt KMT popularity. He agreed with me that China would be surprised to discover that there was not that much difference between the parties with regard to negotiation.
Another high-ranking KMT member described how hard it was to stop corruption. The Taiwanese were very skillful at it. They would slip money into your purse or hand it out to children stopping by for Halloween. He was not optimistic about KMT and the People First Party (PFP) getting together.
A KMT member working in the DPP Foreign Ministry said, with a smile, I was “part of the decision-making apparatus of the DPP” and part of the Taiwanese family. He meant it to be friendly. This same person said that the press ambush to which I was subjected last time by the Foreign Ministry had been “a joke”—evidently one they had arranged—and that I should not worry about it.
In Shanghai: Wang Daohan Isolated
In Shanghai, analysts think that China is getting more self-confident and that time is on their side. They feel the business community supports their point of view. The affair involving Wang Daohan and the leak of a speech he gave to other high leaders apparently led to his being told not to see foreigners for a year. This further illustrated the power of the Beijing hawks. Wang’s age and the wishes of his wife further militated against his meeting with foreigners. So my interest in visiting Shanghai was declining.
Another analyst said that the Mainland’s wait-and-see policy had produced a useful “stop-and-think” and had made it possible for moderates to overcome the hawks. He seemed to think that the Mainland would speak to Chen Shui-bian, despite all, if President Chen said the right things, mainly because he might be re-elected and they could not wait eight years. He saw Taiwan now as very complicated and murky, both economically and politically.
A day’s stroll around the center of Shanghai shows how incredibly developed and sophisticated it has become. This must blow the minds of the Taiwanese and underlies the readiness of Taiwanese investors to move to Shanghai with their families.
Tough Line on Chen Shui-Bian in Beijing
It appeared that the Mainland’s leading group on Taiwan policy had ruled that all links to Chen Shui-bian be cut, and there were orders not even to listen, and certainly not to respond, to overtures from him. Attempted contacts were rebuffed. Weakening Chen Shui-bian looked like the strategy. I was happy to learn that I seemed to be considered, at high levels in the PRC, as a “mediator” between Chen Shui-bian and the DPP, on the one hand, and the PRC on the other—but, happily, not a Taiwanese “envoy.”
The Chinese leaders seemed to be too weak to go beyond the One China principle, and “wait-and-see” was helpful to them. They seemed to be in a holding operation while they waited to see about their transition. Jiang Zemin did not want to make a mistake at this critical time. Wang Daohan apparently made a statement on this point that was interpreted as a criticism of Jiang Zemin and, as a result, lost some influence.
The Chinese leaders, one host advised, would like to hear more gossip about what was happening in Taiwan but didn’t want to have the private meetings with me that might facilitate this because it could lead to charges against them.
The Mainland seemed to be worried about Taiwanese cultural trends—anti-socialist or anti-Chinese attitudes—among the young. They were not so worried about political or economic trends and believed, in this regard, that time was on their side.
They were worried about the United States and the changeability of its executive branch under congressional pressure—such as happened with a visa given to Lee Teng-hui to visit Cornell, where the White House had first reassured them and later caved in to congressional pressure. And they were worried about what Chen Shui-bian really thought. Some Chinese generals seemed to want Chen Shui-bian to say he was Chinese as well as to accept the One China principle.
Some people in Beijing thought me the best link to DPP. Parts of the Taiwan-watching community considered me a “brilliant scholar” and had obviously been given instructions to stay close to me.
There seemed to be two factions in Mainland policy—one wanted to divide the United States from Taiwan, and the other wanted to pressure the United States to pressure Taiwan.
The Taiwan Affairs Office looked something like this: Chen Yun-lin was the director, with a deputy director, Li Bingcai, who was involved with ARATS and the economy. Another deputy director, for exchanges, was Wang Fuqing from the central government. Zhou Mingwei was in charge of media, Hong Kong, Macao, and the United States. The deputy director for research was Wang Zaixi from the army, a hard-liner. And there were two assistant directors, Sun Yafu and Zhang Mingqin, who do media.
A leading general said he would relay my ideas to Xiong Guangkai, who was still, apparently, a rising force but not yet, as rumored earlier, a national security adviser. The generals themselves considered Chen Shui-bian too changeable. Xiong might become a vice minister.
Three Ideas Presented
Later, on December 11, I presented three ideas to Zhou Mingwei, deputy director of the Office of Taiwan Affairs, a key government official—one was on ARATS setting up a liaison office in Washington, one on Switzerland’s observer role in the UN with a view to Taiwan having a similar role as part of a bargain, and one on breaking the deadlock on cross-strait relations. The last was incorporated into a letter to Vice Premier Qian Qichen of December 9, 2000. It suggested an idea on which I put great store. Both sides would accept talks based on the One China principle. My letter explained how this could be done in a politically feasible way.
China would explain that it would not discuss any issues and points of view not based on the One China policy. Chen Shui-bian would accepts talks based on the One China policy to determine “what, exactly, can be negotiated with the Mainland so that the public can decide whether this negotiated outcome is something it wants.” But nothing would be agreed without public approval. And China would stop insisting that Chen Shui-bian or other Taiwanese negotiators themselves personally and sincerely accept the One China principle as a precondition to talks. (Appendix)
Later, on March 5, Premier Zhu Rongji threatened Taiwan but may have adopted this idea of basing the talks on the One China principle rather than requiring the president of Taiwan to adopt the One China principle. He said: “We will adhere to the ‘One China’ principle, continue to push for cross-strait dialogue and negotiations on that basis.” I promptly sent a confidential letter to Chen Shui-bian pointing this out. The Chinese bureaucracy moves crabwise toward agreements in such a way as to be able to deny, internally, that positions are changing. So it is precisely in the context of seemingly threatening statements, like Zhu Rongji’s, that subtly new formulations can be introduced.
The ideas I was presenting were well-received, called by a senior Chinese official “theoretical but also practical,” and I was commended for “keeping punching” even though I had “less in the way of resources”—a reference, I suppose, to my leaving FAS and working in the smaller Catalytic Diplomacy. It was felt that the Mainland could not compromise much further, having already said that the One China was the sum of Taiwan and the Mainland. (This was considered a concession rather than just a geographical fact because it put Taiwan, from a grammatical point of view, on a par with the much larger Mainland.) But, I was advised, my ideas would be studied and passed on to higher authorities as I requested.
All in all, in cross-strait relations, it seemed a period in which neither side was likely to take new initiatives. But it was, by the same token, a good time to propose initiatives that required study. When political opportunities arise, especially from elections, the existence of these ideas may shape events. So this was the situation at the end of the year 2000.
MAY 8-23, 2001 TO TAIPEI, SHANGHAI, AND BEIJING
After a visit to Russia in February 2001, I returned to Taiwan and China in May. This visit greatly increased the power and reach of Catalytic Diplomacy. And as will be seen, some of the things done may shape not only the relations between Taipei and Beijing but also the global triangle of Washington, Moscow, and Beijing.
As I began to read, on arrival, Taipei Times back issues of the last five months, one could see the general talk of realignment after the next election. DPP was expected to get 85 seats, or 31 short of a majority, but about 20 KMT followers of Lee Teng-hui were preparing to bolt the KMT, and about 12-15 independent voters might vote with DPP.
There were two views in Taiwan about what to try for: confederation with China is one view, and economic integration is another. Lien Chan, James Soong, and the business leaders prefer confederation, while two-thirds of the DPP like the second position (along with former President Lee Teng-hui). The DPP party elders tried to dilute Chen Shui-bian’s efforts to start dialogue except on narrow technical issues. They threatened to resign if he used the Mainland Unification Council. They didn’t want anything settled. Chen Shui-bian would push the Three Links toward the end of his four-year term, and if he faces difficulties with the elders, he will persuade them that it was necessary to be re-elected.
Meanwhile the business community liked former Premier Vincent Siew and his ideas about economic integration. And Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou of Taipei would try to run in 2008 or 2012. All of the leading opposition candidates have U.S. degrees: Ma from Harvard Law School; Lien Chan from Chicago (Ph.D.); and Soong a Ph.D. from Georgetown.
The younger professionals want to go to Mainland subsidiaries—they think the future is in China. In high-tech issues, China is catching up rapidly—really, only a few years behind—and becoming a major market.
A friend in the KMT international liaison department needed help to prepare a press conference that his boss, Lien Chan, was going to hold on Friday for the overseas press. Late at night, I rewrote the introduction to be used by his immediate boss. At one point, I told the staffer, “This way would be more effective than the one you are planning,” and he responded with a laugh: “But the goal is to make Lien Chan happy!”
In the late afternoon, I met with the handsome and captivating Mayor Ma of Taipei, who has a J.D. from Harvard and who had just come back from Hong Kong, where he had a tumultuous welcome. His name means “horse,” and so I told him the story of the emperor’s sick horse. He said I had a “subtle” mind. He is clever and thoughtful, a very likable man. It seemed that he would not run in the next election—which would involve leaving the mayoralty—but would bide his time until the election after that. (Mayor Ma is, of course, now, as of 2009, president of the Republic of China—elected in 2008.)
Over dinner I learned, from a KMT official, that KMT was being torn apart by DPP on one side and James Soong on the other. DPP got the independence-minded people and PFP got the Mainlanders, since James Soong is a Mainlander. Lien Chan speaks Taiwanese even though he is a Mainlander by origin—his parents were among those who left Taiwan in the late 1800s when the Japanese gave everyone two years to move or stay. He said that Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui campaigning together would be hard to beat. Mayor Ma was the best person to get to chair the KMT, but he was not native Taiwanese and was, therefore, boning up on his Taiwanese.
I had lunch with Lee Yuan Tseh. He agreed with my main points. His group had been dormant. I proposed he convene a new centrist group. It looked like he had had a number of suggestions that he make contact with the Mainland. And he appeared ready to do so if anyone asked him to. But, earlier, requests to him to attend some meeting or other have, in the end, been withdrawn. We agreed that secret talks were necessary to coordinate any further concessions to start talks.
A friend called to warn me that the United Daily Herald had a story saying that the person, Stone, who was once called a secret envoy, was in town and meeting with Lee Yuan Tseh, People’s First Party leader James Soong, and Chen Shui-bian. I stayed close to home to try to figure out what to do about it and finally drafted a statement denying that I was a secret envoy and gave it to the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel business office and asked them to distribute it if necessary. (Appendix)
Realizing that I didn’t want to hear from the press, they told the hotel operator to screen my calls so that I got, instead, a call from them asking if I wanted to talk to so and so. This worked well except when one enterprising female reporter told the operator to tell me that “Mrs. Stone is calling.”
Over lunch, in a private room at the hotel, I talked with a key official, Chiou I-jen, who was very friendly. He kept changing jobs but was now what we would call chief of staff to the president but was, really, chief of staff to the executive, that is, to the premier. In this capacity he worked on every damn thing. Earlier, when he met me, he was the campaign director for Chen Shui-bian and, later, secretary general of the National Security Council. In addition, and perhaps most important, he was the head of the biggest and best organized part of the DPP—the New Tide faction that, along with the Justice Faction of the president, dominated the party structure. He explained the point of view of DPP in ways that others could not.
After this important meeting, in my hotel room, I received Raymond Wu, main foreign policy adviser to Governor Soong. Soong had ideas, he told me, which were obviously from Wu, that Taiwan should be a “buffer” between the United States and the PRC. Soong wanted negotiations on a mutual nonaggression peace accord and confidence-building measures, and he opposed “go slow, be patient” and wanted the three links.
Meeting with the President’s Special Assistant
Just as Raymond Wu, Soong’s assistant, was leaving my hotel room, Liu Shih-chung arrived, the special assistant to Chen Shui-bian. He wanted to know: (1) Will China continue to refuse to talk to Chen Shui-bian even if he gets a majority in the Parliament? (2) Is Lee Yuan Tseh the right person to be the special envoy? Shih-chung thinks the cross-strait group was not successful.
I urged no more concessions without some way to determine what would result.
It seemed, all things considered, that Chen Shui-bian was moving two steps forward and one back. The DPP fundamentalists were dying out and there was a new realism. DPP campaigners might not, in fact, believe they can have a “perfect independence” but something less—not yet defined. It looked like it was important that Chen Shui-bian said there would be no referendum “during his term.” But DPP would not give up efforts to open dialogue and improve relations.
DPP was sending more high officials to the Mainland and changing small regulations of various kinds to improve dialogue and use intermediary associations. Their idea of integration was broader and deeper than just the common market approach. They knew that, in the long run, China would have an important economic advantage but that they would deal with it then.
Tuesday, May 15, 2001: Meeting with Chen Shui-Bian
Because of the Monday press story asserting that I was meeting with Chen Shui-bian, James Soong, and Lee Yuan Tseh, I called Alton Frye in the middle of the night to discuss the upcoming Council on Foreign Relations video teleconference with Chen Shui-bian. And, early in the morning, I prepared a press release and left it with the business office, which began screening my calls.
At 8 a.m., I had breakfast with Su Chi, former KMT cabinet officer for cross-strait relations. He had written a brilliant paper critiquing Chen Shui-bian. Su Chi said KMT should run a Taiwanese for president. He explained how he had invented the notion of the 1992 Consensus as a way of packaging, really, the absence of a stronger consensus. He said all the parties in Asia were weak, including Taiwan’s three parties, and he wanted to know how far U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell would go in supporting Chen Shui-bian.
At 10:30 a.m. I met with Ray Burghardt, director of the American Institute in Taiwan. He and his assistant confirmed the upcoming party realignment and the possibility of Chen Shui-bian and Siew getting together. He said Chen Shui-bian had complained about Zhou Mingwei’s statement in New York about “war.” He thought that Zhou Mingwei was another Zhou Enlai type. He said that the administration had warned Chen Shui-bian not to do anything foolish and to let the administration know in advance if he was going to do anything.
Meeting with Chen Shui-bian
After lunch, I went to see President Chen Shui-bian. I opened by proposing that senior officials of both sides, above a certain level, should engage in “cultural” exchanges by visiting the other side to investigate its culture. I said this was consistent with Chen Shui-bian’s reference to cultural integration. It would, from a Taiwanese political point of view, put Taiwanese culture on a “par” with Chinese culture. And it would produce a profound educational effect on many Chinese officials—much as visits to the United States had profoundly effected Soviet visitors during the Cold War—and would have equally useful effects on Taiwanese who visited China. He looked completely uninterested.
Chen Shui-bian said he was “happy to be in the Presidential Office and thought that I was happy to see him there also.” He said that, while it looked different from the outside, between us, we should acknowledge that I was not an envoy. I said I agreed completely and was distributing a press release, which I handed him, saying just that. I also said that I thought China would not, in any case, accept an American, who did not even speak Chinese, as an envoy. He looked surprised. I reminded him that he would be speaking to many of my friends and colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations later in the day by telecast. If asked by them—as I fully expected would happen—what was Stone doing in Taiwan, he should just tell them that I was not an envoy.
He began discussing his idea of “integration” with the Mainland, adding conditions to it of “democracy,” “party,” and “peace,” and said that it was very important that the other side abandon the threat of the use of force. Knowing this was a deal-breaker, I said that I had tried to get the Chinese to do just that 30 years ago (during my visit to Beijing in 1972) and there had been no change in the Chinese position since. Even Lee Teng-hui had abandoned this request as a condition for dialogue. Chen Shui-bian said firmly that he was not Lee Teng-hui and would continue to press this point.
He said there had been chaos in governing in Taiwan but not chaos in the population, as in some other countries. He said it was probably hard for me to understand the mentality of the Chinese on the other side of the strait and that it was, sometimes, hard even for them in Taiwan to figure out what the Chinese were up to. He said that Beijing thought it would benefit Chen Shui-bian if they talked to him but did not look at the general benefit. He felt China was used to hearing what it wants to hear. (I said: “Exactly, and this is why the cultural visits could be important, they could have a political effect.” At this he seemed to agree, although he had been very uninterested in the proposal at first.)
I said waiting for democracy in China could be a bad idea. (It was not just the wait that I had in mind; I believed that a democratic China would not be able to prevent itself from attacking Taiwan any more than the United States would prevent itself from attacking an occupied Long Island.) He said he meant by democracy that the “free choice of our own people” should apply.
Tuesday: 3:15 to 4:45 Meeting with James Soong
From 3:15 to 4:45 p.m., James Soong met with me in a kind of hideaway. He was with his chief foreign policy adviser, Raymond Wu, and a PR man who used to work for public television. He seemed intent on impressing me.
He emphasized: never living under communism and no war; that it was not time for reunification but important not to provoke the Chinese; and that Taiwan should become a “buffer” and central economic transfer point. But Taiwan should not be a military threat or base. China faced fundamental challenges: succession; economic problems; social transformation—and all this under the pressure of Chinese nationalism.
I told him about the Northeast Strategy and advised him to be “practical”—a word that appeared in the newspapers subsequently when they reported on his meeting. They said Soong had told me that he intended to be “practical.” I told him about Vice President Lu’s conversation with me and the notion of dropping the UN campaign in return for providing Taiwan with more space.
Soong returned to the idea of having the United States work as a “facilitator.” He wanted to settle easier cases of representation in the World Health Organization and the World Bank before worrying about the UN General Assembly.
He supported the 1992 Consensus approach to starting talks and wanted a “peace agreement.” He viewed a “plebiscite as an offensive weapon,” whereas a referendum was a “defensive weapon.” In general he gesticulated, patted me on the knee constantly, looked me right in the eye, and talked nonstop.
Wed.: Now Secret Envoy Between the Taiwan Parties!
After having some of the Taiwanese papers translated for me, I left the hotel for the airport. A KMT friend said the newspapers were “wrapping the secret agent moniker around you by saying: ‘secret agent Stone meets secretly with Chen Shui-bian and is secret envoy between the parties.’” In other words, they were trying to find some reason for my meeting with DPP’s leader Chen Shui-bian and People’s First Party leader James Soong in quick succession—thus “secret envoy between the parties,” a new idea. Another said: “The legendary Stone of whom much is written but from whom little is heard.”
From a cyber café in the Hong Kong airport, I sent B.J. a message for Alton at 1 p.m. and, that evening, in Shanghai got from her the text of what Chen Shui-bian had said in response to Alton asking him a question about me during the videocast. Chen had said:
"Dr. Stone is a well-known scientist who has long taken a great interest in this area and in cross-strait relations. He is a person of many good ideas and we welcome his work in this area. At the same time, I should make clear that Dr. Stone is not an envoy from me or the government of Taiwan. I meet with many people and they could not all be envoys. I have come to believe that the Chinese mentality would not use foreign envoys. But we welcome the interest and thought that Dr. Stone and others offer."
I sent the text by fax to my Beijing hosts and hoped fervently that it would cure the problem in Beijing of my getting so much press attention and the charges of being an “envoy.”
In Shanghai, I had dinner with an old friend. He said Jiang Zemin didn’t think much about Taiwan. The government was very weak bureaucratically. Anybody could criticize anyone for not being orthodox enough, so change was difficult. I also learned that Zhou Mingwei could talk directly to the president and was more important than a vice minister. This was good news for me, because I liked Zhou Mingwei very much.
Dinner Thursday with A Scientist
Over dinner, I met with a famous Chinese scientist whom I had met three decades before, in 1972, during my first trip to China. We met at a new apartment that his wife had “built” (they sell apartments unfinished and they require a lot of work to complete). Even this great scientist had not decoded the EP-3 spy-plane incident, and it took considerable discussion before he said simply, “O.K., now I understand.”
May 18, 2001 Arrival in Beijing
Everyone was nervous during this transition of power. It was as if every bureaucrat in China was awaiting Senate confirmation and keeping his mouth shut. Nobody underestimated the dangers concerning the EP-3 disaster, but few knew what really happened—unless, as some had, they had talked to the U.S. ambassador.
Two days after the April 1, 2001, incident, I had faxed a suggestion to Ambassador Sha Zukang (director of arms control and disarmament at the Foreign Ministry), Major General Miao Shuchun (secretary general of the China Institute for International Strategic Studies), and Zhou Mingwei (deputy director of the Office Taiwan Affairs of the State Council). (Appendix) The suggestion called attention to a Sino-American agreement of January 1998 (“Consultative Mechanism to Strengthen Military Maritime Safety”), which permitted calls for “special meetings.” I suggested calling a special meeting to expand that agreement on maritime safety to an agreement on air incidents.
It was confirmed that Zhou Mingwei met with the president often. I was told: “Our leaders followed your trip carefully” from newspaper clippings but did not appear to be concerned about them: “Not so much, really.” I was relieved.
I was told by one aide that he and Zhou Mingwei were talking about how to use their earlier trip to the United States, and their new friends, and how to use “the ambassador of peace across the strait” (i.e., me). On returning home, I sent some suggestions to Zhou Mingwei on a visit by him to the United States. (Appendix) Later I sent suggestions for his June 2002 visit to the Chinese embassy, as I was planning to be in Iran during that visit.
Realizing that he was leaving Beijing, I called China’s chief arms negotiator Sha Zukang at his home at 9 a.m. and reached him an hour before he left for Moscow. He had complained in The New York Times that the United States, if armed with an ABM system, might get the arrogant view that it could push China around. I recommended a joint communiqué in which the United States would agree that the proposed ABM system was defensive only and not reliable enough to be used to bully people.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., I met with China International Cultural Exchange Center (CICEC) staff. They wanted to know whether, after the election realignment, there would be a coalition of Vincent Siew, Chen Shui-bian, and Lee Teng-hui. Was Lee Yuan Tseh dropping out?
The situation was very sensitive in China because secondary leaders were being chosen who would have much say. The new government would still rely on consensus, but individuals would be more rational. Zhou Mingwei himself wanted to have a low posture, it is said, for a period of consolidation.
They treated me as a real expert, which I really did not feel I was—not compared with those senior China specialists who spoke Chinese and followed the situation very closely indeed, such as Ken Lieberthal or Mike Lampton—and asked if I was optimistic or pessimistic. But such brief summaries of what I think could confuse everyone, and I was not really sure what to say. I considered myself a creator of ideas and a salesman for them.
I asked about ground rules in China for quiet discussions. Younger people might not want to come to hotels now. I was advised to meet younger people and not just try for high appointments. I gave advice on the format for a CICEC conference on cultural differences. In the evening, friends of mine expected stability, with bumps along the road. They also wanted to know what was in the heart of the people in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, I was typing up my newspaper articles in the hotel. (After reading several back months of Taipei Times in Taiwan, I normally filed them by subject and, later, summarized them in a computer file. This helped keep the information in my mind and provided a record. More can be learned from newspapers in a country with a free press than can be learned from any amount of discussion.)
Sunday, May 20, 2001; China is Tense
A friendly official thought that the spy-plane incident had produced an anti-American atmosphere that would deter Chinese officials from meeting with me. He said that Vincent Siew, the former Taiwanese premier, had had trouble getting appointments on one visit because of his past positions of “go slow, be patient.” It was astonishing how long the memories of the Chinese bureaucracy were, and how unrelenting.
I learned more about what Zhou Mingwei had said at the press conference in Washington on February 28. The night before I had thrown a party for then–Vice Minister Zhou Mingwei on his first trip to Washington—something I had earlier suggested he undertake. The party had had some distinguished attendees: Michael Armacost (president of Brookings); Richard Bush (chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan—our “embassy”), James Sasser and Jim Lilly (both former ambassadors to China); Alton Frye (vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations); Leon Fuerth (Al Gore’s national security adviser); and James Woolsey (former Director of Central Intelligence).
Somehow the Taiwanese press had learned of it. So the next day, at a press conference at the Chinese embassy by Zhou Mingwei, this dialogue occurred:
Question from Taiwan Press: Mr. Stone gave a party last night to the delegation. Can you tell us your relationship with Mr. Stone, and also his relationship with the Chinese leadership on Taiwan, and also whether he has passed any messages between China and Taiwan?
Answer from Zhou Mingwei: I would describe him as a never-give-up to promoting the peaceful reunification, to promoting the peaceful dialogue between the two sides.... I just got to know him in the middle of last year actually by chance.... He has very profound feelings toward the Chinese, and has quite substantial understandings about issues related to the U.S.-China relationship. He is anxious to contribute his ideas of how to improve U.S.-China relations and tries to help academic exchanges, personnel exchanges, and so on. His efforts are very highly appreciated by me and I think my colleagues would share my view.
On this trip, I learned that promising young officials live in a compound where the high leaders live and, for that reason, cannot receive foreigners. It reminded me of the famous situation of the Embankment Building in Moscow, where the highest leaders lived in the 1930s. They were collected together, in part, to maintain surveillance over them. The building had walls so thick that they permitted secret passageways for the KGB officials to walk through, day or night, to spy on the occupants even while they might be in bed.
Monday Morning with Beijing’s Generals
I spent 9:30–11:00 a.m. talking at the PLA think tank run by General Miao and led by Xiong Guangkai. General Miao was too busy to do more than drop in, but Vice Chairman Chen and two staff members listened as I explained two of my buttons. One was “Coalitions Shift as China Emerges” and warned the Chinese not to make any tough military moves lest the U.S.-Russian alliance re-emerge against them. (It showed an interesting triangular relationship in which Beijing and Moscow were allied from 1950 to 1959, Beijing-Washington were allied from 1971 to 1989, and raised questions about what might happen if Moscow and Washington got together out of fear of China.)
I also had a button that summarized a famous book on the origins and attitudes of Americans—Albion’s Seed, about the four sources of immigration to America from Britain and the consequent four sources of morality. The button indicated that the culture of the Puritans produced “conciliators” that ought not be frustrated. The culture started by the Virginians should not be insulted because the Virginians felt that honor required hitting back. And the Midwest entrepreneurs should not be discouraged (because they just wanted to trade).
He took notes for General Xiong. They had sent me an invitation to visit within three hours of my request to come to China, and this had been very helpful as the rest of the (non-military) bureaucracy was so slow to respond that one never knew if one had a visa or not. At this meeting, the military officials suggested that I come every three months—which was more often than I wanted. (I considered this a sign that the military did not have to worry about criticism from the rest of the bureaucracy on small things like this. If they considered someone interesting, they just invited them.)
Monday Afternoon with Taiwan Affairs Office
The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council hosted a dinner with Zhou Mingwei. We started talking at 4:30 p.m. and talked for nearly two hours before dinner and more than two hours over dinner. As to the attendees, it was, really, just Zhou Mingwei and his assistant Yang Jie and my guide and his translator (Elton Kun) and the general director of the Taiwan Affairs Office.
Ten Ideas for the Vice Premier
I offered the Taiwan Affairs Office two bags full of my marked-up and torn-out articles from reading the last five months of the Taipei Times since I had, by then, just finished typing up my notes. Zhou was suitably impressed, and Yang Jie was grateful.
I gave Zhou a letter to the vice premier of May 20, 2001, with ten points and suggested we discuss the points and he could send it on to Qian with his comments. He seemed startled but agreeable. (Appendix)
The letter provided a perfect format for discussion. And because the letter was fully drafted, Zhou did not have to take extensive notes. So the work went very efficiently.
Where I may have made a mistake, in retrospect, was in “gilding the lily” or, as the Chinese say, “painting feet upon the snake.” I had found that afternoon, in completing my workup of the Taiwan material, some especially interesting clippings that related to the various articles, and on discussing the ten points, I pointed at the articles for substantiation. And I even put a number on each article from one to ten showing which point it related to.
As he left the dinner, Zhou said he would translate the letter and attach the clippings at appropriate points. Because of a crack made the next day at lunch by a guide (“We are not interested in clippings but first-hand knowledge”), the clippings may have made the whole thing seem less “inside dope or special analysis.” I have to be more careful and, perhaps, should have vetoed his suggestion of having the clippings attached.
Anyway, I felt the letter was good; I wrote it after arrival in China in two hours, and if they didn’t like this letter, then they didn’t like me.
This letter warned that if China took any positions that seemed militant, a “U.S.-Russian alliance might re-emerge”—a button I brought with me advertised this possibility. With another button (“What Rouses America...), I explained the different cultural attitudes toward honor and violence in the United States. (This was taken from an interesting article, “A Risk of Misreading America” by James C. Bennett of April 9, 2001, of United Press International. (Appendix) I made some points about what was happening in Taiwan, urged dealing with Chen Shui-bian, and called for “exchanges of officials on cultural tours.” I called for coordinating a halt to the Chinese missile buildup and the U.S. sales of weapons to Taiwan. I urged inviting American officials to China. And I urged patience.
During the dinner, Zhou asked me how to build on his visit to the United States, which he credited me with scheduling. I suggested that he come back with some attractive proposals and talk to Powell and/or Condoleezza Rice about ways to improve relations.
He expressed discouragement; he found abrasive the discussions he had with Americans. I suggested that he “act like me.” He looked startled. I explained how I operated and mentioned my book on “Strategic Persuasion.” I said one could not persuade governments from the outside but had to find someone on the inside to talk to who was sympathetic and would be the “carrier” of the idea. He could find some high officials to talk to. Like me, he would find greater and greater respect as time went on and would have more “penetration.” Like me, he would leave the quarreling to the ambassador and be the “good cop” in putting forward “yesable” propositions. At this point, he clinked glasses. And he looked happy.
I also gave him a pep talk: 1 billion Chinese were relying on him. China was much respected in the United States, and his personal manner was perfect. Accordingly, whatever happened, he would be much respected. Jiang Zemin was a mentor for Zhou.
Zhou thanked me for introducing him to people like the very conservative Woolsey, something he said was “a first,” since he usually only got invited to talk to like-minded people.
The other questions he asked were: (1) Does America need an enemy? And (2) Does all this military preparation make any difference (i.e., the changes in America dispositions toward preparations to fight in Asia)?
This total four hours—in which I got my letter passed along and Zhou accepted my encouragement about his future—was so exciting for me that I had to take a hot bath that night to get to sleep.
Tuesday Morning: Trouble in the Foreign Ministry
I met with Zhou Wenzhong at 3 p.m. at the Foreign Ministry. There was something quite cool and distant about the way the meeting started, to such a degree that I said: “Have I antagonized you in some way?” He said “no,” without explanation. I introduced myself as an old friend of China. He stated his view of the spy-plane incident. He asked coldly if I wanted to discuss it. I began to realize that he was the chief negotiator on the Chinese side for this incident and had been party to putting out all the highly misleading and inaccurate Chinese information. He knew quite well my position—which I had described to a number of people who would certainly have passed it along to him. And he was spoiling for a fight.
I pointed at the clock and said there would not be time. I asked if I could say more about my career in introduction since this was a courtesy call. He said something like, “If I didn’t agree, perhaps he should repeat his point of view.” Adding to the unsettling affair, the room had been set up with an enormous floral arrangement between us. So we were sitting side by side—on adjacent thrones, so to speak, in the Chinese fashion—but without being able to see one another even if we turned. I wondered if this was done to signal hostility. In addition, although I had arrived suitably early and been placed in a room waiting for him, he turned up in a different room and had me escorted there; it made me feel as if I had come late and he had been kept waiting. I wondered if all this was done to keep the foreigner off balance.
Later, he became the ambassador to the United States and I was not invited to Chinese embassy receptions. But it did not make much difference to my operation. I had normally bypassed the embassy since, I felt, contacts with them would just short-circuit, in memoranda from Washington, the points I wanted to make in person in Beijing during my visits. And when I had something to urge or suggest that was more urgent, I found lower-level members of the embassy who were quite content to hear my ideas and pass them along. Still, it was unfortunate.
In Beijing, I was getting less in the way of high-level appointments now. They offered me preparatory lunches to try to find out if I had anything to say worthy of an appointment with the vice premier. (In other words, they were waiting to see if I had brought some signal or important concession from Taiwan—which I did not have.) This had forced me into a pattern of writing letters to the vice premier, which stated rather precisely what I thought. And I handed them to Zhou Mingwei, whom I trusted, and explained it to him. This gave less publicity to my visit—and was easier on the vice premier. And with Zhou I could have meetings that were more private than with a vice premier and could speak more freely.
On the way to the airport, CICEC representatives asked about my meeting at the Foreign Ministry—which for some reason they were excluded from—and when I declined to say anything they repeated, they said: “We are concerned about this meeting.” So they knew immediately that things had not gone well.
COUNTRY VISITS Nos. 15 & 16
Visit to Taipei, Shanghai, and Beijing: March 13—28, 2002
I had last been to Taiwan and the Mainland in May 2001. Catalytic Diplomacy’s ABM Treaty activity, including a visit to Moscow in the week of September 11, had taken up the interim. And I had delayed going to Taiwan until three months after the December 1 elections to give the Taiwanese political situation time to gel (i.e., to arrive only after cabinet positions and political coalition-building in the legislature had been completed).
The DPP had won resoundingly in the December 1, 2001, election. And a new party run by former President Lee Teng-hui, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), had won a dozen seats. But even with some independent seats voting with DPP and TSU, the overall coalition, called Pan Green, had not had enough votes to make a majority in the legislature. Instead, the Pan-Blue coalition of KMT and PFP had put together 115 votes out of 225.
As usual, I arrived on a Thursday night with a view to setting up some appointments on Friday and reading back issues over the weekend. Over Friday morning, at breakfast with a KMT liaison officer, I learned that the popularity of KMT’s leader, Lien Chan, was in single digits and of the KMT itself was around 13 percent. The pro-unification New Party had disappeared. Since the election, it had become politically dangerous to talk of cross-strait relations. Following President Bush’s support for Taiwan, about 58 percent were now for independence, whereas formerly it had been 30 percent. The legislature was talking of making Taiwanese an official dialect. New street signs were printed in Taiwanese. And the government was putting the word “Taiwan” more prominently on the passport. There was even legislation proposed that would limit future presidents to people born in Taiwan. (This would legally, or at least morally, preclude the leaders of the KMT and PFP party.)
The KMT, which believed in seniority, had no good replacement for Lien Chan. Taipei Mayor Ma was too new, and the new speaker of the parliament, Wang Jin-pyng, was too young, as was Jason Hu. A plebiscite on Taiwan’s independence was becoming possible. The political environment was moving toward independence. The KMT looked bad when DPP did provocative things that moved toward independence and China did not react.
March 15, 2002: Vincent Siew, Former Prime Minister
In a meeting, and then over lunch, I met with Vincent Siew for more than two hours. He was the first vice chairman of the KMT but was frozen out of KMT activities because he was considered soft on DPP and respected by Chen Shui-bian. A decent and popular man—now, as of 2009, the Taiwanese Vice President—he started the Cross-Strait Economic Common Market Foundation, and in the course of our conversation it became evident that he needed a Mainland counterpart organization to help organize his work.
In particular, the Mainland had already agreed to have the Three Links go forward through commercial means, but this was not so simple, and governmental oversight was necessary. His standing in Taiwan and his foundation could help accomplish such things if he had someone to talk to on the Mainland side.
President Chen Shui-bian, however, would like to slow the Three Links by insisting that they be done with “dignity”—which meant government-to-government, which in turn meant the Mainland would not agree.
One of Siew's many assets was that he knew how the government in Taiwan operated and so knew how things could be organized to go forward with the blessing of the government. The talks could go forward in Hong Kong or, even, in Taipei with Siew organizing the visit.
Economic integration was encouraged, he said, by the fact that China had offered ASEAN a program of regional integration (e.g., a free trade area), from which Taiwan would not want to be left out. I offered to try to organize a counterpart for his foundation.
Lunch with Michael Hsiao on Cross-Strait Advisory Committee
With Lee Yuan Tseh, the Nobel Prize winner, being out of town, I arranged a lunch with the spokesman of his Cross-Strait Advisory Committee. Afterward, I sent a long memo to Lee Yuan Tseh’s secretary suggesting that the group focus on: (1) economic integration that required no political preconditions; (2) the Northeast Strategy; and (3) other “practical” ideas.
Lunch with a KMT Staffer
By reading constantly from Friday evening through Sunday lunch, I had gone through more than three months of Taipei Times back issues, getting myself back to the day of the December 1 election. Over lunch with a KMT staffer, we decided that it was the Confucian style that was keeping Lien Chan in place. People told him to be tough, but they didn’t tell him to resign because it was not polite and, also, not in their interest since he kept them in their positions. Meanwhile, he complained that his problems arose from an incompetent staff that did not “decorate him enough.” The PR men, he thought, were not doing their job.
The KMT was bringing in Taiwanese at the bottom of the KMT but not at the top because they were “not trusted.” KMT had to cut back 25 percent for financial reasons and was planning to cut at the bottom, but the recent success at very local elections—due to good organization at the bottom—had suggested that the cuts should be done otherwise.
Got the Qian Qichen speech
E-mailing Steve Aftergood, my former FAS staffer and, currently, a member of the board of Catalytic Diplomacy, I managed to get an English copy of the Qian Qichen speech, which showed that the Mainland was trying hard. The speech had many good points and none bad. It seemed, in fact, better than it was, and I misinterpreted one aspect.
March 18, 2002: Speaker of the House Wang Jin-pyng
Back at the hotel, I prepared a written analysis of the possibilities in the Qian Qichen speech.
Over lunch I learned, from a favorite analyst, that neither side was very interested in starting talks. He did not disagree with my analysis and said he was learning from me in one solution I mentioned for getting talks started. He said Chen Shui-bian always looked at the polls and was never a statesman. Chen Shui-bian was badly burned by the June 26 effort to adopt the 1992 Consensus. And now he had Lee Teng-hui on his tail.
In the afternoon I met, with great ceremony, with what we would call the Speaker of the Parliament. I asked him some general questions and got quite ordinary answers. He said Taiwan was not ready for talks because it did not have a consensus on the issue of the One China principle.
I mentioned that, at least, they were no longer firing missiles at Taiwan—as they had in 1996 to discourage the first free election. He said that they still had 600 missiles “pointed at us.” Asked if he were in favor of economic integration, he said, “Difficult to answer…. If it leads to co-existence and prosperity, then fine. But if we jumped into it, then it could be bad and we might get sucked into the PRC.”
As I left the meeting, I said to my KMT guide: “When you talk to some people, you get the impression that China is very small and that Taiwan is very large.” He responded: “Yes, and you get the impression that Taiwan is very close to the United States and very far from China.”
In the morning I got up very early and, in the business office, made more copies of the Qian Qichen speech and wrote a one-page letter to Chen Shui-bian that I planned to hand to Liu Shih-chung, his assistant. I had learned that Chen Shui-bian was making a tremendous effort to get to Washington in response to an invitation by the National Press Club. It was destined to set off a second “Cornell” crisis (i.e., akin to the one created when the United States permitted former President Lee to go to Cornell for a reunion while he was in office), and I wrote a warning that, at the least, something had to be done that was friendly to China to balance such a thing.
Otherwise, I warned, he could alienate the new fourth generation of leaders in China before they even got started. After all, the whole trip was being planned during the succession in China. China might decide he was just another Lee Teng-hui.
The letter suggested that the new Qian Qichen speech had said it would be enough to have “serious, positive and practical steps on the issue of the 1992 Consensus” to resolve the deadlock. Why not build on that? (Appendix) Later, the propaganda machine in China reversed and tried to put a different spin on the speech, but it still provided an opening—as I wrote also to Lee Yuan-tseh. (Appendix)
A very experienced expert said all of the foreign policy advisers of Chen Shui-bian were Lee Teng-hui people, which made agreeing with the Mainland almost impossible. At the Mainland Affairs Council, it was Tsai Ing-wen. At the Foreign Ministry, it was Eugene Chien. At Defense, it was Tang. And at the World Trade Organization, it was a former finance minister.
From May 2000 to May 2001, Chen Shui-bian was very cautious, but toward the end of 2001 there was more risk-taking. Chen Shui-bian rarely mentioned the country title “Republic of China (ROC)” anymore—it was not in the National Day speech and was used mainly for the army or foreign governments. (Because “Republic of China” had a residual claim to be itself the owner of China completely, it was, ironically, not as offensive to Beijing as hearing “Taiwan” as a separate entity.)
In November, Chen Shui-bian began to say that accepting the 1992 Consensus was tantamount to selling out Taiwan. He told this to former Secretary of Defense William Perry in November. And C.F. Koo, Taiwan’s chief negotiator, was complaining that, if this were said enough, how were we going to get back to the 1992 Consensus? The Government Information Office (GIO) had changed its logo and, of course, put Taiwan on the passports.
Why this change? The expert believed it was Chen’s visit to the United States in transit in May where 20 Congressmen and Senator Tom Daschle encouraged him—plus the prospect of the December election. For Taiwan, this all seemed like a window of opportunity.
Liu Shih-Chung: Private Secretary to Chen Shui-bian
I gave him the letter. On my mentioning a possible National Press Club speech, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
Chiou I-jen: Chairman of the National Security Council
I had a private 30-minute meeting in the Presidential Office with Chiou I-jen, who was extremely busy, having just been shifted from chief of staff of the premier’s office to head of the National Security Council. I explained my fears about the trip to Washington and had some exchanges, which are not included here.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002: Journey to Shanghai
In Shanghai, the key analysts knew quite well—what was a state secret in Taiwan—that the Taiwanese were trying to get to Washington. They were in high dudgeon, urging “friends” to stop this visit. Indeed, they said, Chen Shui-bian was giving speeches in Taiwan saying that it was imperative to “increase Taiwan’s visibility.” They had learned that the U.S. intelligence community believed that China would not object strongly to the U.S. visit if he did not visit the White House. But, in fact, the visit would cause a crisis worse than the crisis that arose when President Lee Teng-hui, still in office, attended his Cornell reunion. (According to the ground rules between Beijing and Washington, Washington’s recognition of Beijing as the government of China precluded permitting high leaders of Taiwan from visiting the United States except for travel stopovers.)
During this talk, I had a great idea for throwing the One China principle back into the UN as part of a deal on Taiwan becoming an observer.
Letter to Qian Qichen
In the afternoon, and in the next morning, I began working on a five-page letter to Qian Qichen that explained some new ideas for resolving the Taiwan issue. It went through quite a few drafts and, in the end, seemed all right, if somewhat long. It might get talks started, and this had risks. But there were risks to letting things drift, because the trend toward crisis was too clear to wait.
The letter said: (1) Chen Shui-bian was likely to be re-elected. Stronger ties between Washington and Beijing were coming. Beijing’s new Taiwan policy was not having much effect. China’s efforts to prevent Taiwan from getting “new space” were unnecessary, a losing battle, and counterproductive. (2) It suggested inviting Chen Shui-bian to visit China on a cultural visit to preempt Chen’s interest in going to Washington and to encourage Washington to bet on better cross-strait relations through the cultural visit rather than offering a visa to Chen for a speech in Washington that would cause trouble between Beijing and Washington. And (3) it suggested further steps to follow and tried to help Taiwan’s Vincent Siew find an economic institute to exchange views with. (Under the new KMT government, Vincent Siew was the vice president of Taiwan.) (Appendix)
The Generals in Beijing
In Beijing, the CIIS (PLA) institute called me and confirmed the meeting at 9 a.m. the next morning and said that General Xiong Guangkai, its chairman, would give me the separate meeting that I had requested. And on learning that three other generals from the institute were planning to come also, I suggested that a private meeting would be better. (This was later agreed.)
The new executive secretary, Major General Zhang Chengming, was busy on Saturday morning, March 24, and they had asked the new vice chairman, Gong Xianfu, to handle it; he was the recently retired military attaché from Washington, and his English was excellent. Three aides joined him. But they were not allowed to speak except when I suggested we ask the three aides to ask a question. At the institutes, it seems commonplace for the directors to talk nonstop and resist letting the younger attendees say anything; whether this is to protect the aides from an indiscretion or to prevent them from giving up some information, I have never been sure.
Having declined lunch at the institute earlier, I hosted a lunch with two vice chairmen of the Reform Institute—Lin Di, secretary general of CICEC, and Ding Kuisong.
I had brought a poster from the Library of Congress boasting that its program of exchange of Russian leaders now included 2,600 visits per year. I argued that China should ask for parity. Ding was quite interested in this. And I suggested that Hu Jintao ask for a meeting with Librarian James Billington on his visit to Washington for a discussion of how these programs work and to get encouragement for equal treatment for China. Ding found this very interesting. (On leaving, we went to the business office, and I made three copies of the poster, one for each of them.)
On the succession, it appeared that the deputies to the senior people could be chosen only after the People’s Congress ratified the succession in March 2003, and so the appointment of new positions would go on into the end of 2003. (Shanghai was going to lose influence because its influence came from Jiang’s origins there. But these two vice chairman [Ding and Li] might gain influence because Hu Jintao was the head of their Reform Institute.)
Dinner with Old Friends
Over dinner with two of my oldest friends in China, I learned that the common people had lost all interest in who their leader would be. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials were overloaded with the “shopping lists” of demands made by visiting American officials over human rights, purchases, issues of arms sales, and so on. And these officials had to deal with pressures inside the ministry about how to deal with the outside pressures.
Teachers in China Carefully Supervised
China appears to be partly socialist and partly capitalist in its university structure. If you are in a conservative university, you still have monitors in your classrooms, and, for good measure, the monitors are the ones you have to go to get help. In Chinese fashion, a young physicist I knew told me he greets all things with “patience.” It made me wonder whether Chinese are less likely to undertake the kind of policy entrepreneurship I was attempting. It requires so much indifference to whether people think one is brazen and so much independent thinking.
In the middle of the day, I lifted weights. And I prepared a one-page letter for General Xiong. (Appendix)
Even Chinese Diplomats Kept in the Dark
Ambassador Ji Chaozhu, the last English language interpreter for Chairman Mao and, also, former undersecretary of the United Nations, was living quietly as an honorary vice minister of the Foreign Ministry. (We had met when he was an official in the Washington Embassy and I had helped him secure the first apartment outside the Embassy that Chinese officials had been permitted.) We had a good chat about politics in China but, unfortunately, I knew much more than he did because of my access to the newspapers.
It is quite amazing for Westerners like me to visit controlled societies such as China and Vietnam and find that, through reading the Western literature, one knows many things that even the best informed citizens of those countries do not know. The power of living in a free society is immense.
Vice Minister Zhou Mingwei of the Taiwan Affairs Council
At 11:30 a.m. on Monday, I met with Vice Minister Zhou, his assistant, Mr. An, Yang Jie, and a guide from the Taiwan Affairs Office. We talked for 30 minutes and then spent two hours over lunch. Zhou seemed interested in my proposal to divert Chen Shui-bian’s visit to Washington with an invitation to Chen Shui-bian to visit China—this would persuade both Taipei and Washington that Chen Shui-bian’s visiting China was more important.
But he asked what to do about the fact that Qian Qichen had said, on a number of occasions, that the PRC was not going to invite Chen Shui-bian to China unless he adopted the One China principle or accepted the 1992 Consensus. Thinking fast, I suggested that these “political preconditions” were designed primarily for “political” talks but not for “cultural”—nonpolitical—meetings. “Does a man have to accept the One China principle to visit the graves of his ancestors,” I asked, “and/or to see the strength and power of Shanghai and Beijing?”
Anyway, I said their choice was between a “bad thing”—Cornell II with Chen Shui-bian going to Washington—or a good thing—inviting Chen Shui-bian to Beijing, in which case, I argued, Washington would be happy to put off the Washington visit in favor of not disrupting such a “promising development” in cross-strait talks. I suggested the visit to Beijing be in the spring of 2003 after the People’s Congress had put the succession issue to rest for the highest leaders.
I asked about the protocol. Zhou Mingwei thought that Chen Shui-bian would be invited by a “high-ranking individual” to come as the “authorities in Taiwan.” He said he would keep me advised.
He liked the idea of inviting young leaders—which I had discussed with Ding Kuisong and Lin Di. He did not know that Siew had a foundation on a cross-strait economic common market and was interested in this. The trouble was that some thought Siew was soft on the DPP; I said Taiwan was small and there was not always a perfect person for China to support.
General Xiong Guangkai: Deputy Chief of Staff
General Xiong, who was once considered a “barbarian handler,” had risen to considerable influence because of his command of English and his standing as one of the five deputy chiefs of staff in the General Staff. He was said to have Jiang Zemin’s ear. He had a demonic laugh.
He thought inviting Chen Shui-bian would give Chen Shui-bian too much prestige and asked, “What about the One China principle?” He was quite apolitical in his thinking, and it was hard for him to understand how democratic systems operate. When I explained the importance of the fact that Chen Shui-bian spoke Taiwanese and the other candidates did not, he proceeded to explain that Taiwanese was just Fukianese and that one did not have to speak that to run Fukien Province. At one point, he said angrily that “the Taiwanese have become Westernized.” He was very doctrinaire. He said the Washington defense attaché warmly recommended me. I should not have raised the idea of Chen Shui-bian’s visit with him, as it would only serve to give the army a chance to veto the notion.
Wang Jisi: Director of the Institute of American Studies of the Academy of Social Sciences
Wang Jisi is a charming and highly respected analyst who was very familiar with the United States as director of the Institute of American Studies of the Academy of Social Sciences. He immediately advised me to disregard all rumors of his impending high position under the new leadership. He preferred, he said, to stay where he was. The cadres, he said, thought in terms of U.S. plans and schemes. He preferred to do studies. He warmly agreed to think about leadership exchanges and was about to go to Shanghai on the weekend to meet with a congressional delegation led by Mike Lampton of John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He agreed to see if he could prime Hu Jintao to influence Billington about having a Chinese version of the program.
Wang said that Chinese returning from the United States do consider it friendly, but they don’t understand how it works, and we discussed ways to prime them on this. He believed that the Chinese media were more conservative than the rest of the body politic and eager to show that Jiang Zemin was too soft—just as our media tend to the liberal. He thought many problems arose from this.
Tuesday Morning: Zheng Zeguang, Deputy Director General
The next morning, I met with a baby-faced, 44-year-old deputy director general in the North American Department of the Foreign Ministry named Zheng Zeguang. He remembered me from two previous meetings and was determined to be friendly—as if to make up for a meeting I had with a superior, Zhou Wenzhong, who was about two levels up. Nothing much resulted. Zhou later became the Minister (i.e., number-two) in China’s Washington embassy.
I lifted weights and went swimming in the Beijing Hotel gym and bought gifts.
The trip back was rough—27 hours, because one has to fly through Tokyo now unless one leaves from Shanghai. Fortunately, I had secured business-class upgrades using frequent flier miles.