The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating conversation with U.S. Senator, Dianne Feinstein, who recently came back from a trip to China speaking with Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji. It reported, “A Conversation With Dianne Feinstein,” where the senator (who is also the chairwoman of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee) admitting the February 2010 $6.4billion arms sales to Taiwan, “I believe that’s a mistake on our part.”
(Also read our featured post: “Open Letter to President Obama from Chinese netizen, LTML.”)
Here is a snippet of that WSJ conversation:
WSJ: What are the problems in the relationship?
DF: I think there’s a problem over the $6.4 billion arm’s sales to Taiwan. I believe that’s a mistake on our part. The relationship is now proceeding I think very well.
I have followed it closely.…I have followed it for 30 years.
I think right now the Chinese have extended the so-called ECFA, the [China-Taiwan] Economic Framework Agreement, which is in discussions. When it is signed by both then there will be negotiations on how to expand trade.
What’s been achieved recently are the “three links,” air, postal and sea traffic direct. Now there are 270 flights a week between Taiwan and China. Everyone is thrilled I’m told.
So I think the right things are happening in terms of a stable, status quo relationship.
WSJ: Did you discuss North Korea?
DF: We did discuss that. I chair the Intelligence Committee of the Senate. Before I left we had a full classified briefing. There is no question in my mind based on the forensic evidence, not the least of which is the torpedo itself, that the attack came from North Korea.
The question is why. And that answer is ephemeral. Nobody quite knows. There are a number of hypotheses. There are also questions, will it be followed by something else?
There is a distinct need for China to assert itself with North Korea. China has seemingly up to this point been reticent to do so. I think it’s very important that China step up. And we have said as much.
WSJ: What did you hear from Beijing on this issue? The officials you spent time with don’t sound like those making policy now?
DF: That’s probably true, with the exception of Wu Bangguo who certainly would. I didn’t meet with [President] Hu Jintao if that’s what you mean.
But I think one of the things about dialogue in China – what you say gets around. The United States would clearly be very appreciative of help with the situation. That message was transmitted very clearly.
What’s the significance of Feinstein’s comments?
This is the first time an U.S. official (the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, no less) publicly referring to the February 2010 $6.4billion arms sale to Taiwan as a “mistake.” It is signaling either that the Obama administration has “come around” on this issue or a faction of the U.S. leadership is beginning to see eye to eye with the Chinese.
On the Cheonan incident, it is clear that the U.S. is still publicly taking the position that North Korea was behind the attack per Feinstein comments.