Arts & Culture 
 Human Rights 
 U.S. Asian Policy 

Home > Publications > 

Beijing spreads rumors about joint declaration
Paul Lin

 Related Articles
Traditional Culture: One Must Pay Back One's Debts
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 5 of 5)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 4)
Acts Upon a Stage (Part 3)
Taiwan's Culture of Food
Acts Upon a Stage (Part II)
Chinese Dance in Ancient History
Acts Upon a Stage (Part I)
A Story from History: Jiang Balang Paid His Debt
China's Slavery Scandal Reveals Weaknesses in Governance
On the eve before his last visit to the US, Chinese President Jiang Zemin probably still has a number of details to work out. The agenda of his trip has been announced several times, but always in vague terms. The most recent "itinerary," announced by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, has Jiang planning to visit Chicago, Houston and San Francisco.

The reason why Beijing is acting in such a furtive manner is primarily that Jiang fears Falun Gong will get wind of his plans and launch protests. In fact, it is Jiang's own reluctance to make a public appearance that appears cult-like.

And who came up with the bizarre idea that US President George W. Bush and Jiang would hold secret talks for an hour on a lake, with each bringing along only a single interpreter? Are they deciding on a date to begin the attack on Iraq, or does Jiang have some secret that he must deliver personally to President Bush? If there really is such a secret, why doesn't Jiang, who is purported to speak fluent English, deliver the message to Bush in one-on-one talks? Why bring an interpreter?

China's devious intent can be seen in an announcement made at a press conference in Beijing by He Yafei, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs. He claimed that after the summit between Jiang and Bush, the two leaders would release a joint declaration. Prior to every meeting between Bush and Jiang, Beijing has circulated this kind of rumor. Could it be that this time the rumor really is true?

Spokespeople for the US government responded very quickly by saying that after Bush and Jiang meet, the two leaders will not be signing any new communiques; they won't release a joint declaration; and there won't be any harm done to the interests of Taiwan. Come to think of it, since their meeting is so confidential that they will talk on a lake, wouldn't it just be spilling the beans to make some kind of joint declaration?

Beijing is even more intent on releasing a joint declaration than in the past because, immediately upon returning home, Jiang will convene the Chinese Communist Party's 16th National Congress. With a joint declaration in hand, he could boast of the success of his great-power diplomacy, thereby avoiding censure from within the party. This will be particularly important if he has to engage in a final struggle to stay in office.

But the intent of the US to avoid a joint declaration is also very clear. Bush will have seen Jiang three times within the space of one year. Are there really so many crucial matters to discuss, matters that require issuing "joint declarations"? Moreover, China is particularly adept at playing word games to its own petty advantage. In order to avoid these annoyances, the US is well-advised to steer clear of making any declarations in the first place.

At present, it appears that China is using every trick at its disposal to curry favor with the US and win an agreement for a joint declaration. For example, concerning the content of the talks, China has always emphasized the Taiwan problem in the past as being both sensitive and of crucial importance. But now China is also placing anti-terrorism at the top of its list.

If the US is moved and signs a joint declaration with China, then the US will receive empty promises from China, but later on there may be real harm done -- just as in the past a "perception" of one China suddenly evolved into an "acknowledgement" of the same. Similarly, the US has also fallen for China's tricks on the issue of selling arms to Taiwan. In order to curry favor with the US, China has recently even allowed Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to send envoys to Beijing and has released some Tibetan dissidents. More may be released in the near future. In the face of such "enticements," the US will have to be very firm in its resolve.

In fact, current indications seem to imply that the US is not terribly interested in China's "anti-terrorist" rhetoric. Instead, it is concerned with China's actions. Recently, The Washington Times reported that a state-run Chinese enterprise is now negotiating with Iraq to sell chemicals that could be used to produce missile fuel.

Prior to this, international nuclear analysts and former UN weapons inspectors stated that aluminum tubes China shipped to Jordan might be transported on to Iraq where they could be used in a high-speed centrifuge to manufacture enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

And now the media have revealed that North Korea acknowledged to the US it has been secretly developing nuclear weapons for the past few years (a fact the US had originally promised South Korea that it would keep secret). The countries helping North Korea develop nuclear weapons are Pakistan, China and Russia; and Pakistan's nuclear technology was, in turn, provided by China.

These are the topics the US is truly interested in discussing. And it would appear that real common ground between the US and China won't be easily found.

*Paul Lin is a commentator based in New York.

© Copyright 2002-2007 AFAR