Fri, Jan 14, 2000 - Page 12 News List

Can we trust Soong's China policy?

By Lin Yu-Hsiang

During the New Year holiday independent presidential candidate James Soong (宋楚瑜) accepted an interview by CNN, during which he once again gave his view on cross-strait relations. On the surface, Soong did not depart from what others in Taiwan had said before, or the consensus of Taiwan people. Nevertheless, parts of Soong's comments are worth a second look.

Soong repeatedly emphasized that no one is willing to accept communist rule, and no one is willing to start a war with China. Soong even quoted US President John Kennedy's famous words: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

His use of this quote tells us that either Soong has not grasped the nature of the cross-strait problem or he is deliberately being misleading.

The main problem in cross-strait relations is that the Republic of China on Taiwan wants to protect its independence and sovereignty, in other words, the status quo. However, China does not recognize Taiwan's sovereignty and wants to change the status quo. For this purpose, China is willing to settle for nominal sovereignty over Taiwan and then gradually obtain substantive rule through the "one China, two systems" arrangement.

Many people are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect Taiwan's sovereignty. Currently, the entire army is standing by to protect our national sovereignty. How can anyone be mistaken about what the problem is by stating that "no one is willing to start a war with China?" Is Soong tactfully propagandizing anti-war ideologies and pacifism?

The greatest question about the dispute between China and Taiwan is whether negotiation is of any use, rather than whether one is willing to negotiate. Soong was, either deliberately or unintentionally, being misleading about the core problem.

China's insistance on negotiating with the "one China, two system" principle as a precondition of negotiations violates the principle of equality. There is no need to negotiate, since it will not accomplish anything. In contrast, if two sides respectively advocate the "one China, two systems" arrangement and the "special state-to-state relation," then there is room for negotiation.

After the CNN interview, Soong submitted a few additional points. He indicated that importance should be attached to participation in the TMD (theater missile defense) and the purchase of high-capability fighter jets -- a change from his initial stance in opposition to those two points, for which he was the target of much criticism.

He also touched upon the establishment of a bilateral "hotline" which has been long advocated by others, the prevention of military conflict and the signing of a peace agreement. Soong's advocacy of international monitoring of the signing of an agreement was thereafter opposed by Beijing in the media.

Soong also proposed that Taiwan seek a mutually beneficial and supplementary integration with China. Although Soong stressed that the integration would not damage Taiwan's status as an independent country, the statement undoubtedly made many people feel deeply concerned about Taiwan's security. After the proposed integration, China may not rely on Taiwan when in need, but the opposite may not be true.

Soong must "speak clearly and directly" (說清楚,講明白) and offer an explicit explanation.

Finally Soong said that "any major decision about the country's future cannot possibly be made by a political leader alone, and the support and agree-ment of the 22.6 million Taiwan-ese people must be sought."

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