Fwd: China & Taiwan

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Thu May 18 05:13:20 MDT 2000

Here are two articles from the Murdoch press in Australia, regarding China
and Taiwan (& Australia)

>From THE COURIER-MAIL news.com.au
(Murdoch newspaper in Brisbane, Qld, Australia.)
This article appeared in the 18th of May, 2000 issue.

Taiwanese don't fear blockade
in Taipei

TAIWAN'S new government due to take office on Saturday has dismissed media
reports that claimed China was planning a blockade of the island's largest
port later this year.

The chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party's National Defence Policy
Group, Parris Chang, told The Courier-Mail yesterday the idea that China
would blockade the southern port city of Kaohsiung in September was

He claimed that a military blockade on Taiwan would constitute an act of
war that would drag in the US and its allies, including Australia.

"China is not that stupid," Mr Chang said.

Yesterday's reports said that according to a secret United States
intelligence forecast shared with the Australian Government, China would
cut off port access to Kaohsiung in September to force Taiwan to reopen
talks on reunification as soon as possible. Kaohsiung is the third largest
container port in the world, handling more than 300 million tonnes of cargo
each year.

A blockade would have severe economic and social implications for Taiwan
and its trading partners, Mr Chang said.

According to statistics released by the Australian Commerce and Industry
Office in Taipei, Australian imports to Taiwan in 1998-99 totalled, more
than $4.2 billion, most of which was shipped through Kaohsiung.

The ACIO representative in Taipei, Sam Gerovich, declined the opportunity
to comment on the contents of the report.

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have been rising since the stunning victory
of Chen Shui-bian, the candidate of the pro-independence Democratic
Progressive Party, in the island's presidential election in March.

The win put to an end of 51 years of rule by the Kuomintang, the party that
fled to Taiwan in 1949 following its defeat at the hands of Mao Ze-dong's
Communists on the mainland. Beijng regards Taiwan as a breakaway province
that must eventually be reunited with the mainland.

Mr Chen is regarded in Beijing as a "dangerous" independent whose refusal
to accept China's preconditions for talks on reunification will lead to

However, defence analysts in Taipei yesterday agreed that the blockade
option was extremely unlikely at this point in time.

Andrew Yang, the secretary-general of the Chinese Council of Advanced
Policy Studies, an independent policy think-tank in Taipei, said his
intelligence sources in Beijing and the US suggest that China will stand by
its "wait and see" approach to Mr Chen.

"Since his election victory Mr Chen has shown all the signs of being a
moderate," Mr Yang said.

"His words and actions seem to suggest that he is prepared to discuss
anything, as long as it is done peacefully."

>From the News Limited webpage:
NB:  News Limited are the publishers of the Courier-Mail.

China, Vaile ready to sign on dotted line

BARRING any last-minute hitches, Australia will sign its bilateral World
Trade Organisation agreement with China next week when trade minister Mark
Vaile visits Beijing.

All but a single item is still outstanding, and both sides are trying to
resolve their differences so that the document can be initialled during
Vaile's meeting with his Chinese host, trade minister Shi Guangsheng, early
next week.

What remains are small but important details of the item in question.

But those who have negotiated with the Chinese have warned that nothing can
be taken for granted until they have signed on the dotted line.

Diplomatically, it will be a wonderful gift to his guest if Shi can ensure
that these points are ironed out by the time Vaile, who is leading a
business delegation to China, arrives in Beijing on Monday.

Trade sources say the momentum is there. Beijing is keen to finish off its
bilateral negotiations with trading partners, including the European Union.

A delegation from the EU is in Beijing this week to work out the details.
Both sides hope this will be the last session and perhaps the deal can be
concluded by the end of the week. EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy has
indicated that he is prepared to stay as long as it takes to reach an
agreement with Beijing.

China has initialled bilateral agreements with the United States, Canada,
Japan, New Zealand and other smaller trading partners like Pakistan.

Australia began negotiations with China for its accession to the World
Trade Organisation 12 years ago. An in-principle agreement was reached a
year ago.

At the time, the then trade minister Tim Fischer said the value of the
overall deal for Australian exporters would be "many hundreds of millions
of dollars".

Australia has successfully sought and secured improved access on a wide
range of agricultural products, including sugar, wool and wool tops,
oilseeds, lupins, dairy products, seafood, meat and animal products as well
as processed food.

China has set a global quota level of 242,000 tonnes of wool and 65,000
tonnes of wool tops from 2000, at tariff rates of 1 per cent and 3 per cent
respectively. The volume will rise to 287,000 tonnes and 79,000 tonnes
respectively by 2004. Wool is traditionally Australia's largest export item
to China, worth $556 million last financial year.

One of Australia's fastest growing exports to China is oilseeds. China
began importing Australian oilseeds in 1995; in 1998-99 imports of this
item rose 186 per cent to $107 million. Australian negotiators managed to
get China to agree to reduce the tariff on canola seed to 9 per cent from
this year. As well, it will lift global quota from 600,000 tonnes to 1.1
million tonnes by 2005.

China agreed to bind and reduce its agricultural tariffs on 30 items
ranging from chilled boneless beef (from 45 per cent to 15 per cent), to
apples (30 per cent to 10 per cent) and bottled wine (65 per cent to 20 per
cent) by 2004.

On industrial products, Australia's agreement ensures lower tariffs on cars
and car engines. The agreement also covers trade in services such as
banking, insurance, professional services (legal, accounting and
architectural practice) and telecommunications and distribution services.

China has assured Australia that Australian firms will be given the
licences needed to operate in China. It will also grant additional licences
to Australian banks and insurance companies.

Once China's accession is formalised in Geneva at the WTO's general
council, the most immediate impact will be market access in China for a
wide range of products. Access for some products will still be limited, but
China has undertaken to lift restrictions over the next five years.

Far more important than market access, China's entry to the WTO will, in
time, mean that there will be greater transparency, clearer rule of law and
predictability for foreigners doing business with China.

Chinese authorities and companies can arbitrarily change quotas, tariff
rates and even contracts. Post-WTO, Australia and other trading partners
can enforce international rules by taking China to the WTO dispute
settlement panel.

In the longer term, the world hopes that the openness that comes from trade
will eventually filter into other aspects of Chinese life, and that in time
China will come to accept as the norm such matters as international
standards on human rights.

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