President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has announced that he will pursue a new constitution in 2006 if he is re-elected next year. Voters may remember several important campaign platforms announced by Chen prior to the 2000 presidential election.
\nIf elected, the first thing he would do is to abolish the National Assembly through a referendum, convene a constitutional reform conference to complete amendments to the Constitution and put the constitutional amendments to a referendum.
\nChen did not use terms such as "creating a constitution" back then. But his recent call to "establish a constitution" shares the same logic as replacing the National Assembly with a constitutional reform conference and making a final decision through a referendum.
\nThe major goals to be achieved in the new constitution are reducing the number of legislative seats by half, adopting a two-vote system with single-member electoral districts and choosing between a presidential system and a Cabinet system. These are certainly the nation's major problems, and also the key points of the constitutional reforms that Chen tried to promote after he was sworn in.
\nThere's nothing new in Chen's recent pledge. It is similar to his campaign platform four years ago and the policies he wanted to push through in the early stage of his presidency. Now the focus of the public attention is whether creating a new constitution means a step toward declaring independence and whether this runs counter to his "Five Nos" promise.
\nWhy did Chen fail to carry out his previous promises? If he wins re-election, can he make good on his promise of creating a new constitution?
\nUnder the current legislative structure, it is almost impossible for Chen's government to conduct constitutional reforms from within the system. Why didn't he convene the constitutional reform conference -- an idea he put forth before the 2000 election -- after his inauguration, since it would have been a way of amending the Constitution outside the system? Probably because of the power gap between the ruling and opposition parties, as well as pressure from the US.
\nSome DPP members have not given up on promoting these reforms. They plan to hold a referendum on the day of the presidential election to garner public support for legislative reforms and, riding on the back of public pressure, push forth constitutional reforms.
\nIf the DPP wins a majority of seats in the next legislature, it can promote constitutional reforms through different methods other than creating a new constitution. If the DPP is not the majority party after Chen is re-elected, will he directly resort to the method of creating a new constitution?
\nThis possibility exists. Some DPP think tanks are dissatisfied with the "incremental" constitutional reforms implemented during former president Lee Teng-hui's (
Late last month, Beijing introduced changes to school curricula in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, requiring certain subjects to be taught in Mandarin rather than Mongolian. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) seeking to gain from sending this message of pernicious intent? It is possible that he is attempting cultural genocide in Inner Mongolia, but does Xi also have the same plan for the democratic, independent nation of Mongolia? The controversy emerged with the announcement by the Inner Mongolia Education Bureau on Aug. 26 that first-grade elementary-school and junior-high students would in certain subjects start learning with Chinese-language textbooks, as
There are worrying signs that China is on the brink of a major food shortage, which might trigger a strategic contest over food security and push Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), already under intense pressure, toward drastic measures, potentially spelling trouble for Taiwan and the rest of the world. China has encountered a perfect storm of disasters this year. On top of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, torrential rains have caused catastrophic flooding in the Yangtze River basin, China’s largest agricultural region. Floodwaters are estimated to have already destroyed the crops on 6 million hectares of farmland. The situation has been
In 1955, US general Benjamin Davis Jr, then-commander of the US’ 13th Air Force, drew a maritime demarcation line in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, known as the median line. Under pressure from the US, Taiwan and China entered into a tacit agreement not to cross the line. On July 9, 1999, then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) described cross-strait relations as a “special state-to-state” relationship. In response, Beijing dispatched People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the Taiwan Strait, crossing the median line for the first time since 1955. The PLA has begun to regularly traverse the line. On Sept. 18 and 19, it
Midday in Manhattan on Wednesday, September 16, was sunny and mild. Even with the pandemic’s “social distancing” it was a perfect day for “al fresco” dining with linen tablecloths and sidewalk potted palms outside one of New York City’s elegant restaurants. Two members of the press, outfitted with digital SLR cameras and voice recorders, were dispatched by The Associated Press to cover a rare outdoor diplomatic meeting on one of these New York streets. American diplomat Kelly Craft, Chief of the United States Mission to the United Nations, lunched in the open air with Taiwan’s ambassador-ranked representative in New York, James