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China Suspends Diplomatic Contact With Taiwan
By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZJUNE 25, 2016
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan at a ceremony this month. Ms. Tsai, who took office last month, has unsettled Beijing with her reluctance to disavow calls for Taiwanese independence. Credit Tyrone Siu/Reuters
BEIJING — In a sign of growing friction between China and Taiwan, mainland diplomats said Saturday that they had suspended contact with their Taiwanese counterparts because the island’s new leader would not endorse the idea of a single Chinese nation.
Beijing said it had cut off communication because President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan failed to endorse the idea that Taiwan and the mainland are part of one China, a concept known as the 1992 Consensus.
The move was the latest effort by the Chinese government, led by President Xi Jinping, to increase pressure on Ms. Tsai, who took office last month and has unsettled Beijing with her reluctance to disavow calls for Taiwanese independence.
“The cross-strait communication mechanism has been suspended because Taiwan did not recognize the 1992 Consensus, the political basis for the One China principle,” An Fengshan, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said in a statement posted on its website.
Taiwanese officials said Saturday that they would continue to try to communicate with their mainland counterparts. “We hope Taiwan and the mainland can continue to have benign interaction, which is good for both sides,” said Tung Chen-yuan, a government spokesman in Taipei.
Patrick M. Cronin, a senior adviser at the Center for a New American Security, called the decision by Beijing to halt talks a “warning shot across the bow.” He said mainland officials were growing increasingly nervous about an independence movement in Taiwan and were seeking to hinder Ms. Tsai’s domestic agenda, including her promise to revive a slowing economy.
“China will deny carrots and signal red lines for President Tsai as she grapples with her fundamental challenge, which is righting the economy,” Dr. Cronin said.
Taiwan and China have been estranged since the Communist revolution of 1949. Under Ms. Tsai’s immediate predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, the two sides forged closer economic and political ties.
Ms. Tsai has taken a more cautious approach, openly criticizing Chinese officials and warmly embracing China’s historic rivals like Japan. Her party, the Democratic Progressives, has traditionally advocated Taiwanese independence, a move the mainland has threatened to counter with military force.
Ms. Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo in cross-strait relations, but she has stopped short of offering an unequivocal endorsement of the One China policy.
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Since 1992, Taiwan and the mainland have agreed to consider themselves part of a single Chinese nation, but each side embraces a different interpretation of what that means.
Mainland officials treat the consensus as a prerequisite for normal relations, and threatened to suspend contact if Ms. Tsai did not endorse the principle. The state media published a series of scathing editorials, including one in which a People’s Liberation Army general suggested that Ms. Tsai, Taiwan’s first female president, held extremist views because she was unmarried.
On Saturday, the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing revealed that talks with the Mainland Affairs Council in Taipei had been suspended since May, soon after Ms. Tsai’s inauguration. The two entities represent one of the primary channels of communication between China and Taiwan, overseeing discussions related to trade, law, education and culture.
Tensions between the two sides increased in recent weeks, after Cambodia, an ally of Beijing, decided to deport to mainland China 25 Taiwanese citizens accused of participating in an internet scheme. It was the third instance in recent months of China’s seeking to prosecute citizens of Taiwan on its soil.
On Saturday, Chinese officials defended their handling of the case, saying efforts to crack down on internet schemes were legitimate and supported by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Analysts said the decision to suspend talks was probably the beginning of a campaign by Beijing to increase pressure on Taiwan.
China has several methods by which it could further constrain Ms. Tsai. It could seek to lure away Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies with promises of lucrative infrastructure investments. It could also place restrictions on Chinese tourism to the island, which has increased significantly in recent years, becoming a bright spot for the otherwise struggling Taiwanese economy.
“The big unknown is the business community,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. “China will be reaching out to all the segments that are going to be dissatisfied with Tsai’s policies.”
The timing of Beijing’s announcement, just as Ms. Tsai departed for Latin America on her first overseas trip as president, seemed aimed at undermining her leadership, analysts said.
“By refusing to communicate, Beijing is making it more difficult for the Taiwanese government to fulfill its obligations to its citizens and as a member of international society,” said Jonathan Sullivan, the director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham in England.
He added, “Beijing is saying, ‘We don’t care about inconvenience and are prepared to inhibit the management of cross-strait interactions if we don’t get what we want.’”
Owen Guo contributed research from Beijing
Diplomat’s Death Reignites Debate Over China’s Role in the World
By JANE PERLEZ and YUFAN HUANG JUNE 24, 2016
BEIJING — From his start as an aspiring diplomat in China’s Foreign Ministry in 1959 to his days as an ambassador in Paris and Geneva, Wu Jianmin represented the best of his country’s diplomacy: firm but reasonable, gracious but not unctuous.
In retirement, he became an unusually outspoken advocate for China’s remaining open to the outside world, warning that the nationalism that had grown under President Xi Jinping should be kept in check.
Mr. Wu, 77, was killed in a car accident last weekend, and his death has reignited a debate over how China should conduct itself abroad.
At his funeral in Beijing on Friday, a delegation of more than 20 officials from the Foreign Ministry, led by the executive vice foreign minister, Zhang Yesui, paid their respects. The foreign minister, Wang Yi, would have been there had he been in the country, a ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said.
“I have never seen a public figure whose death made so many people sad and made so many people euphoric,” said Liu Yawei, the director of the China program at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Mr. Liu described Mr. Wu as a diplomat who could stand up to “the accusations that he was a coward because he advocated peace.”
In an interview last year, Wu Jianmin said that China does not seek domination of the South China Sea. Video by BBC HARDtalk
Mr. Liu was at a conference at Peking University about China’s news media and its relations with the world when participants were told that Mr. Wu had been killed in a crash after his driver struck a median strip in Wuhan, in Hubei Province, last Saturday.
The sponsor of the conference was Global Times, the state-run newspaper that Mr. Wu had criticized for its stridently nationalistic views. Murmurs of shock rippled through the audience at the news of his death.
Mr. Wu had been candid about his distaste for the publication, saying editorials that urged the military to show more spine and take more action in the South China Sea, where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with its neighbors, were wrongheaded.
Mr. Wu had taken on the newspaper’s editor in chief, Hu Xijin, accusing him in a speech in March of making a “mess talking about the world” and of not understanding how the world worked. In return, Mr. Hu called Mr. Wu a dovish diplomat who did not know what was good for China.
Soon after Mr. Wu’s death, hawks in the debate flooded Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.
An Air Force senior colonel, Dai Xu, wrote that the former ambassador was “ignorant, arrogant, bad mannered and grumpy.” Colonel Dai, who teaches at the National Defense University, also criticized Mr. Wu for being “like a pet dog to foreigners” but “like a wolf dog’’ when dealing with Chinese.
Mr. Wu was a familiar figure to Americans involved in China policy.
In 1971, after serving as an interpreter in French for Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, Mr. Wu arrived in New York in the first batch of Chinese diplomats assigned to the United Nations when China took the seat previously held by Taiwan.
“He is the epitome of an excellent public intellectual: deeply committed to his country, yet extremely thoughtful and nuanced in his analysis of it,” said Jan Berris, vice president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, who knew Mr. Wu from those early days.
Mr. Wu gradually moved up through the ranks of the Foreign Ministry and after several ambassadorships became president of the Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, retiring in 2008.
Then, unrestricted by the confines of government and academia, he spoke out, a rare act in a time of decreasing tolerance for those who dissent, colleagues said. “He had the moral courage to speak out,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.
At Mr. Wu’s funeral, a reporter for Phoenix Television who was live streaming from outside the hall interviewed a man in civilian clothes who said he was in the military.
The man praised Mr. Wu for understanding that China was in danger of retreating to the closed mind-set of the Qing dynasty and that it needed the outside world.
He added: “Don’t put that on the record.’’
Follow Jane Perlez on Twitter @JanePerlez.
Prominent former diplomat Wu Jianmin dies in car accident
(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-06-18 11:51
Wu Jianmin, former Chinese Ambassador to France, has died in a car accident in Wuhan, Hubei province in the early morning on Saturday, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The accident happened at the south exit of Donghu Lake Tunnel in Wuhan at about four o'clock on Saturday. Two people died and one was injured.
The car ran into the flower bed in the middle of the road after picking up Wu who was about to give a seminar in Wuhan University in the morning.
"We feel deep grief after hearing Wu Jianmin, former Chinese ambassador to France, passed away this morning. We French people have lost a great friend, who knew France and made great contributions to the relationship between France and China. Please allow me on behalf of the French people to express deep condolence to the family members of Wu," said Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, French ambassador to China.
Wu had worked as an interpreter for former Chinese leaders such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi.
Wu was born in 1939 in Chongqing and graduated from the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, majoring in French, in 1959. He obtained a postgraduate degree in translation and interpretation.
Wu had a distinguished career as a diplomat, and served as ambassador of China to the UN until 1998.
He worked in many posts such as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, as ambassador to the Netherlands, Geneva and France.
Elected as the president of the Bureau International des Expositions in 2003, Wu is the first Chinese and Asian as well as the first person from a developing country to serve in the crucial post.
In 2003 he was appointed president of China Foreign Affairs University and served for five years.