Focus switches to Taiwan

By Fong Tak-ho in Beijing
PRESIDENT Clinton will reiterate the ``three nos'' policy on Taiwan in a
speech at Peking University on Monday, Beijing sources said.
Mr Clinton's words will be in return for Saturday's comments on human
rights with President Jiang Zemin, which were broadcast live on TV, the
sources said.

The ``three nos'' that Beijing wants to hear are that Washington opposes
the independence of Taiwan, the idea of ``two Chinas'' or ``one China,
one Taiwan'' and any application by Taiwan to the United Nations or any
international organ as an independent state.

It was understood that with Mr Clinton under huge domestic pressure over
his China visit the sensitive subject of Taiwan was not directly touched
on in the press conference after Saturday's summit with Mr Jiang.

While some Beijing-based Sino-American relations experts told the Hong
Kong Standard they expected remarks to be made on Taiwan in the latter
part of Mr Clinton's trip, the Beijing sources confirmed that the
American side had promised to reiterate its Taiwan policy, and the
Peking University speech was picked as the best moment to deliver the
words to appease Beijing ears.

Both Beijing and Washington have rejected claims that Saturday's live TV
debate, which touched on such delicate issues as human rights, Tibet and
the Tiananmen crackdown, was a Chinese concession in return for Mr
Clinton taking part in a welcome ceremony at the square.

It is understood that the cameras will go live again today for Mr
Clinton's speech at the university and for questions to him afterwards
from students, which are expected to touch on human rights and Taiwan.
Beijing sources said the decision to screen Saturday's debate live was
made in advance and was not a trade-off for the Tiananmen ceremony.

It was understood that it was the American side that initiated the
proposal to televise live, convincing Beijing it was in its interests to
show the world it was opening up.

Beijing accepted the suggestion, and contrary to some reports, it was
not the first time in which the sensitive human rights subject was
debated live.

The mainland has broadcast earlier meetings with Western dignitaries in
which the subject had come up, the sources said.

They added that authorities thought that as the broadcast was not at a
peak hour, few Chinese would bother to watch it.

Almost all Beijing's official media avoided mentioning the debate,
though the English-language China Daily briefly said that the two sides
expressed differing views on human rights.

US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger earlier denied Beijing
televised Saturday's debate on American request, saying it was Beijing's

Mr Clinton's domestic foes were highly critical of him taking part in
the Tiananmen ceremony, the spot where the Beijing authorities cracked
down on pro-democracy demonstrators nine years ago. Mr Clinton will have
been grateful of the chance to deflect criticism through his remarks in
the debate.


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