Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Taiwan to Peking: Have a Nice Life

The Taiwanese just filed for formal separation:

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on Monday shut down the committee responsible for unifying with rival China, significantly deepening tensions with Beijing and defying opinion in Washington.

After a one-hour meeting with the National Security Council, Chen announced he was ending the National Unification Council and doing away with its guidelines, which commit Taiwan to eventual unification with the mainland.

"The National Unification Council will cease to function," Chen said. "The National Unification Guidelines will cease to apply."

Chen's move came despite dire warnings from Beijing, which on Sunday accused him of stoking tensions across the volatile Taiwan Strait.

"The further escalation of Taiwanese independence and secessionist activities, pushed by Chen Shui-bian, will no doubt cause a serious crisis," said a Chinese government statement.

The United States played down Chen's decision to terminate the committee, with State Department spokesman Adam Ereli saying it "has not been abolished. It's been frozen."

China is not amused. Their president, Hu Jintao, condemned the move:

Hu's criticism came amid a series of stern Chinese statements Tuesday that vilified Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian but refrained from repeating Beijing's frequent threats to attack the island, which it claims as part of its territory.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the United States, Taiwan's only major ally, to block any moves toward independence for the island, split from the mainland since 1949.

Hu accused Chen of taking a "dangerous step" toward independence.

"We will continue to strive for the prospect of peaceful unification, but we will never allow Taiwan to be split from the motherland," state media quoted Hu as saying.

The high-level warning reflected the depth of Beijing's alarm at Chen's decision Monday to abolish the National Unification Council along with guidelines calling for uniting Taiwan with the communist mainland.

Chen "is determined to push 'Taiwan independence' to create antagonism and conflict within Taiwan and across the strait," the ruling Communist Party said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

"It will only bring disaster to Taiwan society," the statement said.

The Taiwanese have not broken relations but we can all see where this is going. Irreconcilable differences, I'd say. The only question is who gets to keep the china. And whether the Taiwanese will pay for the restraining order to keep the Chinese at bay.

UPDATE: The Weekly Standard reports on America's support for Taiwan's move. China wants to support Iran in its confrontation with America? Well two can play the geopolitical card, Peking. Good luck running your Iranian oil past Fifth Fleet, India, Seventh Fleet, and Taiwan if it comes to crunch time.