Taiwan's request to participate as an observer was again rejected by the World Health Organization (WHO). China spearheaded the objections. Wu Yi, vice premier of the People's Republic of China (PRC) emphasized, "As a province of China, Taiwan is not eligible to participate in the WHO.", "If Taiwan needs any foreign assistance, the central government of China is willing to consider it.” His stance illustrates clearly that the new China-Taiwan thinking announced in the 16th National People's Congress has been prematurely terminated. Cross-strait relations will again become a zero-sum-game as before. China will pay a considerable price for this action because it will only earn Taiwan more sympathy in the international community.
China's action will also consolidate the negative feelings of Taiwan's people for China. In the November 2002 16th National People's Congress in China, Jiang Zemin pointed out that there is only one China and that both the Mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China. He went on to say that it is impossible for China's sovereignty and territory to be separated. In fact, before the 16th National People's Congress, Zhu Rongji, the premier, Qian Qichen, the vice premier, and Tang Jiaxuan, the foreign minister announced their definition of the new China. It was also presented at the United Nations (UN) by Tang Jiaxuan. According to this definition, China would not unilaterally emphasize that Taiwan was a part of China or insist that it was a province. Instead, both China and Taiwan would be on equal footing, but both would be considered as belonging to China.
China included this definition in a formal document at the 16th Congress. In a report, Jiang Zemin suggested that under the premise of one China, it was possible for Taiwan to talk about its international status and the economic and cultural space related to such status. That is, China would not object to discussion and exchange of ideas concerning Taiwan's participation in international organizations as a sovereign body, as long as the premise was understood to be "one China." However, this new thinking came to an abrupt halt with the WHO incident. Referring to the definition of "one China," Wu Yi returned to Jiang Zemin's 1995 Eight Points. Wu Yi completely negated Jiang Zemin's flexible guidelines concerning the issue of Taiwan's participation and international space. Jiang had suggested handling the issue of Taiwan's joining the WHO in a more flexible manner under the "one China" principle. Is Hu Jintao suggesting completely different strategies from those proposed by Jiang Zemin? Or is he attempting to consolidate power and avoid being criticized by political opponents ? Will he resume more practical policies later? Or does he lack sufficient experience and wisdom to handle the troublesome Taiwan problem? Since the release of the report on the 16th National People's Congress, Taiwan has been suspicious of this new China-Taiwan thinking.
Many in Taiwan believe it is only a united front strategy or a sort of international propaganda to compel the ruling party in Taiwan to accept the "one China" policy in cooperation with the opposition party. China is not sincere in its desire to solve Taiwan's problem of representation in the international arena. Wu Yi's announcement proves Taiwan's concerns are valid and illuminates China's lack of sincerity. In the future, even if China rephrases its wording, it will be more difficult to convince Taiwan of its sincerity, which can only lead to poor cross-strait relations and confrontation in international society.