Sun, Aug 19, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Chen takes a great leap forward

By ChrisWu 伍凡

US SECRETARY OF State Colin Powell visited China at the end of July, prompting a warming of Sino-US relations. In early August, a delegation from the US Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee visited Taipei and Beijing, requesting that the two sides resume negotiations. Following this, while receiving US senator Joseph Biden, Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that the only possible way to resolve the cross-strait situation given the diverging views on the two sides of the strait was to decide the one China issue on the basis of the ROC Constitution. He said that this represented the answer that would be most acceptable to the governments and peoples of the two sides.

This was the latest of Chen's explanations of the one China policy since becoming president on May 20 last year, and with it, he took a great leap from "a future one China" (未來一中) toward "a constitutional one China" (憲法一中).

Why did Chen take this great leap forward?

Looking at the overall situation in the US and Asia Pacific, we see that economic development in general has slowed down, that the US economy is slipping, that unemployment rates are rising, that stock markets are still falling, and that they have not reached the bottom yet.

Although China's GDP continues to grow at a rate of 7 to 8 percent, the Asia Pacific region -- particularly East Asia, with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea -- is still slipping, and the Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Philippine and Thai economies of Southeast Asia are not coming back to life. India, in South Asia, does not much influence the economies of the Asia Pacific, where the economic slowdown may very well lead to a second economic crisis in the region.

To deal with this, the US is attempting to persuade the governments on both sides of the strait to resume negotiations, to change the political situation, push Taiwan's economy forward, and to stimulate the Hong Kong, Korean and Japanese economies. This should be of help in preventing a second economic crisis in the Asia Pacific, and it should also be of help in arresting the fall of the US economy and helping it to pick up again. We can with certainty say that a continued fall of the Taiwanese economy will be detrimental to the whole Asia Pacific region and to the US, and that arresting the fall of Taiwan's economy and helping it to revive is a fundamental condition for protecting the current status of the Republic of China.

Looking at Taiwan, the economy has fallen from a growth in GDP of 5 percent last year to an estimated growth of 1 percent this year, a fair amount of capital and talent has moved to China, unemployment among workers is on the rise, and Taiwan's stock market has lost about 40 percent in value. With the year-end legislative elections looming, Chen Shui-bian's government and the DPP are under great political and economic pressure. It was for this reason that Chen proposed the "constitutional one China" policy, explaining that it was a solution to this pressure, hoping that it would be of help to the DPP in the year-end legislative elections. Taiwan's stock market has not picked up since, however, showing that Taiwanese society still doubts his policies.

At the same time, the "constitutional one China" proposed, as it was, by Chen during his talk with Senator Biden can also be seen as one kind of response to US pressure.

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