Like everyone else, I look forward to seeing if the recent visits by Taiwan’s opposition leaders to the Mainland will lead to a breakthrough in cross-Strait relations. However, China must also talk with President Chen.
I believe Chen has now begun to see the remoteness of establishing an independent Taiwan state before his term ends in 2008. Consequently, now is the time for him to show statesmanship and work across party lines to develop a cross-Strait policy that is in the best interests of all the Taiwan people. This also would provide him an opportunity to cement his legacy.
As the rising power in the region, China should show confidence from its position of strength by reaching out to the Taiwan people through actions such as supporting the island’s observer status at the World Health Organization, brokering a free-trade agreement, or removing its weaponry targeting the island.
In closing, I want to say again that the U.S.-China relationship will be the most important bilateral relationship of the future, and we must not let confrontation over Taiwan derail the progress that has already been achieved over the past 30 years. If indeed, the U.S. and China are to be the dominant powers of the 21 st Century, we must find a way to live together amicably.
Thank you. And I’ll be happy to take any questions.