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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

MEDIATORS

A Plea for Patience


LEE KUAN YEW TRIED to talk sense into two quarreling friends last week. "China's leaders have referred to me as an old friend," he said in a March 3 speech in Singapore. "I am an older friend of Taiwan." And as a "a third party . . . with a deep interest in the well-being of both," the senior minister proposed for the first time specific steps to ease tensions.

Having met with Beijing leaders since the crisis began a year ago, Lee called on Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to take "concrete steps which will show clearly that he means it when he says he wants eventual re-unification. For example, one symbolic but significant gesture Taiwan can make . . . is to say it is reconsidering its application to join the U.N." Then, adds the Singapore leader, "both sides should talk and negotiate seriously to resolve the present situation and agree on a set of markers to give Taiwan, for economic and cultural purposes, 'international space.' There will be agreement only if Taiwan satisfies China that this 'international space' is within a one-China framework and will not lead to independence."

Lee explained that the rest of Asia has not expressed alarm over China's threat to use force "because regional countries know what [the threat] is about." But if the mainland actually attacks Taiwan, he added, the neighbors won't understand "why China cannot be patient and resolve the matter peacefully, when using force would damage both China and Taiwan, and also hurt third parties, the countries of ASEAN and East Asia." War would destroy the peace and stability that underpins Asian economic growth. It would "set back a real chance China now has of becoming a modern and industrialized nation in 25 years. After suffering patiently for two centuries, the Chinese people and their leaders can surely afford to be patient a little longer." Most of Asia would agree.

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