Plenty of words directed at the Beautiful Isle today. First Lee Teng-hui, as so often, commenting in the Japanese press, reported by the trusty CNA:

Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election is very significant because its outcome will have a profound impact on Taiwan’s future, former President Lee Teng-hui was quoted as saying by a Japanese writer.

According to Lee, if the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh, suffered a drubbing in the March 22 election, Taiwan’s democratization could be deferred for 20 years.

But if Hsieh could come from behind to achieve an upset win over the main opposition Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) standard-bearer, Ma Ying-jeou, Lee forecast that the old guards or old forces within both parties would be wiped out, which would eventually lead to a massive generational transition within their ranks.

As to which of the two possible scenarios will emerge, Lee said the results of the latest opinion polls show that Hsieh is gradually catching up, and the trend suggests that the possibility of a Hsieh victory is growing.

Lee further down coyly announces that he won’t endorse either candidate, even though he considers one a disaster for Taiwan’s democratization. Yes, he can see the disaster coming, but he won’t do a thing about it. Better that he preserve a meaningless appearance of evenhandedness…. it would be great Lee would come out and stump for Hsieh. But this is better than the rumor running around that Lee would back Ma…and he flew all the way to Japan to say this. Couldn’t have said it to the Taiwan media in Taiwan….

Meanwhile China was reminding Taiwan that it be would annexed no matter what. First came this article, which had words of peace emanating from Beijing:

A senior Chinese Communist Party leader has called for an increase in understanding between Taiwan and mainland China.

Jia Qinglin is number four in the leadership of the Communist Party.

People in his position are renowned for threatening Taiwan with annihilation if the island ever declares formal independence.

In a sign of apparent moderation, he has called for “improved mutual understanding” and the promotion of economic, technological and cultural exchanges.

That article on moderation in China was followed immediately by a slew of articles that had China threatening Taiwan again. Google Reader offered:

Taiwan ‘will pay’ for independence
Independent Online, South Africa - 4 hours ago
Beijing - China on Tuesday warned Taiwan would pay a “heavy price” if a referendum next month on United Nations (UN) membership succeeded, saying peace
Chen Shui-bian to pay dear price for desperate throw of dice Xinhua
Taiwan warned over independence BBC News
China Warns Taiwan’s Chen Over Agenda Newsday

The BBC notes that the parliamentary spokesman mentioned in the third article made the warnings ahead of a legislative session that opened with Hu Jin-tao making still more threats. A Chinese media organ had the remarks:

“The ‘Taiwan independence’ activities have run counter to the Chinese nation’s strong will to safeguard national unity. Such activities will get nowhere and are doomed to fail,” Hu told political advisors attending the first annual full session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

Hu, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, observed that the “Taiwan independence” activities have become “the biggest menace to national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the biggest obstacle to the development of cross-Strait relations, and the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits.”

As if in tit for tat for all the times China has warned that Mad Chen Shui-bian will do anything, Vice President Annette Lu warned:

Vice President Annette Lu said yesterday China may invoke its anti-secession law before March 22.


Possibilities cannot be ruled out that China may take “irrational action” to preclude the two referendums on Taiwan’s admission to the United Nations, Lu said at a forum organized jointly by the Taiwan-Japan Cultural and Economic Association and the Asian Alliance for Freedom and Democracy in Taipei.

Yes, look for those irrational Chinese to plunge the region into war before March 22, due to referendums they can block with a simple veto in the UN. That’s a possibility about as likely as Chen Shui-bian fomenting an incident in the Taiwan Strait. The US Establishment media warned that China’s defense budget was on the rise and Taiwan was threatened.

Report: China’s Taiwan Buildup Continues
The Associated Press - 3 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — China continues its huge military buildup opposite Taiwan, further pushing the balance of power between the two rivals toward the
China says defense budget to rise, warns Taiwan Reuters
China’s Army Builds for Reach Past Taiwan, US Says (Update2) Bloomberg
China says defence budget to rise Reuters South Africa

Threats from China? That’s just the kind of thing that gets the core DPP voters out….