2009年4月27日 星期一

Quote of the week

“It won't surprise you to hear that I think moderation is important in the affairs of states,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after meeting the president, Michel Suleiman, a former chief of the armed forces who stays above the political fray.

Ms. Clinton touched down in Lebanon on Sunday for a lightning visit to express support for this fragile country, six weeks before crucial parliamentary elections in which the Islamic militant group Hezbollah is expected to make significant gains.

“We want to see a strong, independent, free and sovereign Lebanon,” she said, noting that President Obama had sent Mr. Suleiman a letter expressing those sentiments. “This election will be, obviously, an important milestone.”

Obama invites Mideast leaders for talks on 'comprehensive peace'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama is launching an effort "to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East," his spokesman said Tuesday.

Obama has invited key regional leaders to Washington in the coming weeks for consultations on the peace process, Robert Gibbs said.

Obama wants to meet separately with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Gibbs told reporters.

Dates for the visits are still being worked out, he said.

Obama met Tuesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II."

With each of them, the president will discuss ways the United States can strengthen and deepen our partnerships with them, as well as the steps all parties must take to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab states," Gibbs said.

The leadership of Hamas, considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization, is not being invited. The group, which also provides social services, won elections in the Palestinian territories in 2006, prompting stringent sanctions from the West.

After the election, skirmishes between Abbas' Fatah and Hamas escalated, ending with Hamas in charge in Gaza and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in charge in the West Bank.

A six-month cease-fire between Hamas and Israel ended late last year and was followed by Israel's three-week incursion into Gaza. Israel said that operation was aimed at halting rocket and mortar fire on its southern towns and communities.

Despite a cease-fire called in January at the end of that fight, both Hamas rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes have continued.

Obama appointed a special Middle East envoy on his second full day in office -- former Sen. George Mitchell -- and dispatched him to the region within weeks.

Last week, during his third trip to the region since his appointment, Mitchell reiterated the U.S. desire to see a "two-state solution" in the Middle East, bringing speculation that the United States and Israel's new right-leaning government could be on a collision-course.

Netanyahu has indicated he wants serious negotiations with the Palestinians to continue, but he has not explicitly stated his support for Palestinian statehood.

Questions about the new Israeli government's commitment to a negotiated peace process came up when the nationalist politician and new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared the Annapolis process "null and void." The Annapolis process, launched by the Bush administration, paved the way for the resumption of Israeli and Palestinian talks after they stopped earlier in the decade.

The United States has been making on-again, off-again forays into solving the Middle East crisis for decades.

Former President Bush made a push late in his term, convening a peace conference at Annapolis, near Washington, at the end of 2007."

The parties have said they are going to make efforts to conclude this during the president's term. That's what we will try and do," then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in November 2007, a week before the conference.

Bill Clinton hammered away at the problem as president in the 1990s, bringing together Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, King Hussein of Jordan, and Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel at Camp David in the last year of his presidency. They failed to reach a deal.

Arafat and Hussein have since died. Barak is defense minister under Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a right-leaning government.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a hardliner, said last week the "traditional approach" to Middle East peacemaking "has so far brought neither results nor solutions" and that the "diplomatic process has reached a dead end," according to a press release from his ministry.

Comment on Middle East

The Middle East affair is now the most relative key to the world peace. Since President Obama assumed, he tries to make efforts on peacekeeping on Middle East and keep releasing the good intentions. He believes that his special background may be part of useful factor. Recently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Iraq unawares. And President Obama has also dispatched the special envoy---the former Sen. George Mitchell as soon as he assumed.

As we can see, what American do is deepen and strengthen the ties between the U.S. and the Middle East countries, especially those important troublemakers. But the most troublesome power, Hamas, was not invited. It seems like Obama administration just give the world a show without the real actions. Take Palestine for example, the radical Hamas has beaten Fatah in 2006 and became the largest party in the Parliament.

As the official representation of Palestine, Fatah and Israel have acknowledged each others in 1993. However, Hamas is now the most powerful party in the Parliament, and Hamas has the different position to Fatah on Israeli issues. Hamas take every kind of violent manners in order to sweep all the Fatahs in Gaza Strip and wipe out Israel. I believe the situation in the Middle East is going to be worse without negotiating with Hamas.

I think it's very difficult to make consensus with Hamas because it's a religious organization. They believe in Allah, protect their homeland by life. They consider it's very honor to die for their God, they are born to be the warriors. Since the death of Yasser Arafat, the inner situation of Palestine is getting more chaotic. It's no longer the regional affaire but the worldwide. The power countries have to show their sincerity and also other countries in the region. However, that relates to religious affair, of course it will be much more difficult to make consensus or even solve it. The lefty Obama administration and right-leaning Israeli government, could they be on a collision-course on those common issues? Let's wait and see.

2009年4月21日 星期二

ECFA: Focus on issues, not name

By Chuang Yih-chyi 莊奕琦
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2009, Page 8

The world economy has grown rapidly since globalization started spreading in the mid-1980s. Between 1986 and 2007, the world economy expanded by an average of 3.59 percent, with average growth in exports reaching a high 11.45 percent. As of December last year, there were 230 regional trade arrangements around the globe registered with the WTO, of which 205 — or nearly 90 percent — were established after 1990.

Regional groupings in East Asia were originally driven by market integration; however, after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, East Asian nations started to move toward institution-led integration. For example, the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) was set up to strengthen the East Asian economies and encourage their steady development.

The ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan are now arguing over whether an institution-led agreement should be signed between Taiwan and China. One bone of contention was the pact proposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), called the comprehensive economic cooperation agreement or CECA (before the government revised it to economic cooperation framework agreement), was too similar in name to China's Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, with Hong Kong and Macau.

Viewed realistically and in terms of Taiwan's future development, there is a definite necessity for the signing of an institution-led agreement on trade between Taiwan and China.

Official statistics show that from 1991 to last October, Taiwan had invested a total of US$73.8 billion in China, with cumulative trade reaching as much as US$752.4 billion. However, not one single official investment guarantee or trade agreement has been signed between Taiwan and China. This makes Taiwanese trade with China risky as it lacks any safeguards. It also goes against the spirit of the WTO and is potentially damaging to the Taiwanese economy.

An institution-led agreement on trade between Taiwan and China should be signed under the WTO framework. This is the only way to improve bilateral relations between Taiwan and China and promote multilateral relations with other East Asian nations. With improved multilateral relations, the presence and placement of Taiwanese businesses around the globe, as well as their international competitiveness, would be greatly enhanced. We cannot afford to sacrifice long-term multilateral benefits at the expense of short-term benefits that may come from over-emphasizing a special bilateral cooperative relationship between Taiwan and China.

The normalization and institutionalization of trade between Taiwan and China would be helpful to Taiwan’s internationalization and would also help stop Taiwan from being marginalized. The US and ASEAN have already made their stance clear by saying they wanted Taiwan to sign a trade agreement with China first before they would consider signing free trade agreements with Taiwan.

We should bear this in mind because other nations may harbor the same expectations toward Taiwan. If Taiwan were marginalized while other countries enjoy preferential treatment such as zero tariffs as a result of the agreements they ratified with other nations, Taiwanese manufacturers would lose their international competitiveness and would have to either close down or move all of their business operations to China. The result of this would be a Taiwan even more reliant on China economically and a government with even more China-leaning policies.

Institution-led negotiations carried out under the WTO framework could incorporate exclusion clauses to provide controls and restraints where necessary. This would help protect weaker industries such as agriculture and select service industries, as well as reduce the damage to such industries after an economic opening. Before any discussion with other nations is conducted, a consensus on critical issues should first be formed in Taiwan. Issues such as which local markets would be opened up and how those who may suffer as a result of the market opening would be compensated should be clearly defined before any action is taken. This would help erase public doubt and ease worries about the opening.

The institutionalization of trade does not equate to the institutionalization of politics. Economies are influenced by markets, while politics is shaped by democratic process. The EU is a clear example of this. Taiwan is an independent and sovereign democratic nation where the people have the final say.

In conclusion, to promote internationalization while protecting Taiwanese investment and trade with China and avoid Taiwan being marginalized, Taipei and Beijing should carry out discussions on institution-led agreements and ratify them as soon as possible. The reasons for doing so are obvious. The name of the agreement is not important as long as its content is in line with the spirit and content of the free trade agreements under the WTO framework.

The ruling and opposition parties should stop wasting their energy squabbling over what the agreement should be called and start focusing on openly discussing the framework and details of a cross-strait trade agreement that would benefit and promote Taiwanese welfare.

Comment on ECFA

The ruling and opposition party have already argued the topic which about if we should sign ECFA or not for a long time. President Ma Ying-Jiou insists that's a part of his politics, the government must do it. But the opposition claims that might harm the sovereignty of Taiwan. In the beginning, they're arguing about the name of the pact. China has signed CEPA with Hong Kong and Macau in 2003, the opposition thinks we cannot compare with HK and Macau because they are part of China. In my point of view, they are right; we should emphasize our sovereignty in any negotiations. But in fact, the government never mentions about signing CEPA. They talked about CECA. In order to mistake people, the name has been changed to "ECFA."

I think it's necessary to sign the pact with China as soon as possible. Of course, it should be under the WTO framework and the equal position. The East Asia FTA will be finished in 2010, if Taiwan keep staying outside and do not clear the tariff obstacles of trade between other Asian countries, Taiwan will be marginalized. The products of those countries can circulate without any restraint, so that Taiwan might lose the competitiveness. Under the strong pressure of China, it's almost impossible to sign any FTA with other countries. The U.S. and ASEAN have already made their stance clearly that they won't sign any FTA with Taiwan unless Taiwan has signed with China. Also, the total trade between Taiwan and China has increased rapidly, but there's no pact to protect. It's really risky for the welfare. We may not only lose the international competitiveness but also our inner market.

Although some industries may lost their benefits, but it's sure to lost some benefits when signing the FTA. But, it'll never be sovereignty. If the advantages are much more than the disadvantages, why keep it out? President Ma said we'll not open the circulation of Chinese labors and agriculture products. But it is against the "National Treatment" of WTO. How to lowest the risk is the most important goal before signing ECFA.

We should start the official communication with China, it's necessary. The opposition is better to give up the bias of China. Whenever they mention about China, they turn things down in reflectivity, that's too ideological. Anyway, it's better to discuss about economy in economic way, not politics. It conforms just to the principles of cross-strait economic normalization.

2009年4月14日 星期二

Quote of the week

“We will surely win,” the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, said during his recent birthday party, according to the March 28 edition of Rodong Sinmun, Pyongyang's main state-run newspaper. Rodong then explained Mr. Kim's tactic: “If our sworn enemies come at us with a dagger, he brandishes a sword. If they train a rifle at us, he responds with a cannon.”

2009年4月7日 星期二

Quote of the week

The U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been in touch with representatives of the four other permanent five nations and would make more calls on Monday.

"We're going to continue to go forward in discussions with our partners in the council to see and to seek a strong, coordinated and effective response," Wood said.

Susan Rice, in her CNN interview, said, "We believe the most appropriate form for that response to take would be a Security Council resolution with some teeth in it.

"We will continue to work in that direction, but we have also to look at our bilateral mechanisms and further steps." The goal, she said, is "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula."

No accord at U.N. talks on N. Korea

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council concluded Sunday without an official reaction to North Korea ignoring repeated international warnings and launching a long-range rocket, the council president told reporters.

"Consultations will go on among members to see what is the appropriate position that the council will take," said Claude Heller, the current Security Council president, and Mexico's U.N. ambassador. When the council would reconvene wasn't clear, but Heller said it would be "as soon as possible."

"I think that there is a very strong call for dialogue, to reconvene, and I think there is consensus in saying that the Security Council regretted the government of [North Korea] disregarded the call by [the] international community to suspend the launching," he said.

The launch, at about 11:30 a.m. Korean time on Sunday, set off an immediate firestorm of criticism, inflamed tensions in the Far East, and heightened fears over the North Korean regime's potential ability to undermine nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

The North Korean government said the act was a peaceful launch of a satellite, but a U.S. State Department spokesman declared it a "provocative act in violation" of a 2006 Security Council resolution prohibiting North Korea from conducting ballistic missile launches.

"The launch constituted a clear-cut violation" of the resolution, said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. North Korea's action "merits a clear, strong response" and in the U.S. view, that would come in the form of a council resolution, Rice said.

Japan's U.N. representative, Yukio Takasu, who requested the emergency meeting, agreed, saying the council's response should be clear and unified.

The Security Council's response could come in several forms, including a resolution, a Security Council presidential statement or some other form of public condemnation.

Still, the U.N. ambassador from China -- a council member and ally of North Korea expected to resist a resolution -- said the formal reaction to the reclusive nation should be "cautious and proportionate."

"We are now in a very sensitive moment," Ambassador Zhang Yesui said. "All countries concerned should show restraint and refrain from taking action that could lead to increased tension."

He said China is "committed to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," and pursuing six-party talks, which both the United States and Japan have also indicated. The six-party talks with North Korea include South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the launch during a visit to the Czech Republic.

"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now's the time for a strong international response," the president said during a speech before a huge crowd in Prague.

"North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons. All nations must come together to build a stronger global regime. That's why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course," he said.

Obama is in the middle of a five-nation, eight-day European tour. He was awakened in Prague with news of the launch early Sunday.

Wendy Sherman, who coordinated the Clinton administration's North Korean policy, said she believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il "is up to several things."

"First, he wants to solidify his own position as the leader of his country, following a stroke," Sherman said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"He [also] wants to tell his military that it's a military-first economy, because, in fact, they get money -- funds from the sale of this missile technology.

"And he wants to say to the Obama administration, 'Pay attention to me. I'm serious. I have chips on the table, and negotiating with me is serious business.' "

The North Korean government claimed the launch put a satellite into orbit. American military officials, however, said the launch was a failure, saying the rocket's payload cleared Japanese airspace but didn't enter into orbit.

"Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean," according to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Northern Command, read by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

"No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan," and NORAD and the Northern Command assessed "the launch vehicle as not a threat to North America or Hawaii and took no action in response to this launch," said Gibbs.

Takeo Kawamura, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, told reporters that his country's military was not forced to intercept any missile, which it had pledged to do if necessary. Japanese ships were moving to the areas where parts of the rocket are believed to have fallen to retrieve them, Japanese government officials said.

The South Korean president also condemned the launch, calling it a "serious threat" to world peace, state-sponsored Yonhap news agency reported.

"We cannot withhold our regrets and disappointment that North Korea has caused such a serious threat to peace ... when the entire world is joining efforts to overcome the global economic crisis," Lee Dong-kwan, a presidential spokesman said.

The following is a sampling of reaction to the launch from other world leaders before the Security Council meeting:

• U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "The Secretary-General regrets that, against strong international appeal, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] went ahead with its planned launch," said a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability. The Secretary-General urges DPRK to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and all countries concerned to focus on ways to build confidence and restore dialogue, including the early resumption of the six-party talks."

• Russia's foreign minister called for restraint after the launch, the Russian Interfax news agency reported Sunday, saying that Russian officials would examine whether it violated any U.N. Security Council resolutions.

• British Foreign Secretary David Miliband: "I strongly condemn North Korea's action in conducting a satellite launch earlier today. Pyongyang [North Korea] continues to pursue a hostile policy towards the rest of the world, it cannot hope to take its rightful place within the international community."

• The European Union presidency, currently held by the Czech Republic: "The EU strongly condemns the 'experimental communications satellite' launch performed on 5 April 2009 by the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in breach of the UNSC Resolution 1718.

"These actions place additional strains on regional stability at a time when the unresolved nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula requires mutual confidence building. Such actions are also a matter of more general concern due to their global proliferation implications."

"The EU urges the DPRK to comply with the UNSC Resolution 1718 and immediately to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme, and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

North Korea has launched a missile disregarded the warning from the world. Before launching the missile, Japan has declared that they would do everything to prevent the launch. The U.S. officials thought it's a very strong threat to world peace. The launch was during President Obama's visit in Czech Republic. He appealed the world to stand together in order to prevent the spread of weapons and all nations must build a stronger global regime. Although most of the countries condemned the act of North Korea, the experts said that the launch actually means nothing. It's just an provocative action, and Kim Jong-Il just wants the U.S. to notice him. Since President Obama assumed, he focuses on the issues of Middle East and the effects to the U.S. from economic crisis. Kim Jong-Il wants to be noticed more often for his position and his countries. The launch represents that Kim Jong-Il is reminding the world to value North Korea, like "I'm serious, sit down to negotiate with me." North Korean government claimed they launched a satellite into orbit; however, the U.S. officials said the launch was failure, and the rocket has separated to pieces and fell into the Pacific Ocean. The UNSC cannot make consensus in the reconvening, so it's better to hold the six-party talks as soon as possible, I believe that sometimes negotiating is the best way to solve problems.