NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Declaration of Referendum Re-ignites Tensions with China: 12/08/03
1. Have you ever
seen the label "Made in Taiwan" on a piece of clothing or an
2. Where is Taiwan? What do you know about it?
Questions: (click here for
1. What is the president
of Taiwan asking of China?
Chen Shui-bian announced late last week that he planned a referendum
in March -- an island-wide vote demanding that China remove ballistic
missiles aimed at the island and renounce the use of force against Taiwan.
elected legislature passed a bill last month that allowed the president
to call a referendum if the country is "facing an external threat
which may jeopardize national sovereignty."
Chen, who is
seeking reelection in March, has said that the missiles constitute such
a threat. He also added that the referendum would not involve the issue
of independence but that it would reduce conflict in the region.
2. What is the "one
The policy says
China and Taiwan are one nation and should be treated as such.
3. Why is Taiwan an
issue between the United States and China?
In recent weeks
Chinese leaders have said that U.S.-China relations are threatened by
America's "ambiguous" policy toward Taiwan. China views Taiwan
as a breakaway republic and not a separate state. It has pushed for
a reunification between the island and the mainland. In the past, China
has appeared ready to use its military to force Taiwan to reunify.
action could force the United States to act militarily to defend Taiwan,
as it has promised in the past. The United States recognizes the "one
China" policy but insists that any reunification between the island
and mainland needs to be achieved diplomatically and without force.
4. Describe the relationship
between the U.S. and Taiwan.
After 1949, when
Communist forces, took over mainland China and over 2 million Nationalists
fled to the small island that would become Taiwan, the U.S. government
recognized Taiwan as the one true China . This recognition eventually
led to financial and military aid, as well as promises to defend Taiwan
against the Communists. The two countries signed a mutual security pact
By 1979, the
United States switched courses and recognized the People's Republic
of China, in part as a way to prevent Soviet expansionism.
At first, the
United States severed official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, accepted
Beijing's "one China" mandate and abandoned its defense pact
with the island. However, within months, the U.S. Congress reinstated
unofficial economic ties with Taiwan, including the sale of arms and
military defense of the island in what is known as the U.S.-Taiwan Relations
5. What was President
Bush's response to Taiwan's referendum proposal?
meeting in Washington with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, responded that
he does not support the referendum or any moves that would further Taiwan's
attempts at independence. "We oppose any unilateral decision by either
China or Taiwan to change the status quo," Mr. Bush said, "and the comments
and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing
to make decisions unilaterally, to change the status quo, which we oppose."
(more research might be needed):
1 What can the United States do to diffuse tension between China and Taiwan?
2.Why is it important
for the U.S. to have good relations with China?
3. Make a prediction
about what will happen in March when Taiwan votes on whether to demand
that China remove ballistic missiles aimed at the island and renounce
the use of force against Taiwan. Have each person in the class write their
prediction with their name. Collect the predictions and put them in a
sealed envelope. Open the envelope in March after the vote to see if anyone's
prediction was correct.
Send your answers,
in essay form, to firstname.lastname@example.org
for possible publication!