Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Lien Chan gives the DPP a hand

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has recently seen a rise in public support. Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) attributed this rise to numerous gaffes made by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) during his current trip to Europe and the US. By criticizing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in his speeches but failing to propose concrete policy, Lee argues, Lien has boosted Chen's support rating.

Lee's remarks were somewhat impolite but no less true. Lien has generated news throughout his trip, but most of it has been rather negative.

An example: While in the UK, he reportedly complained that Taiwan's representative office there had given him the cold shoulder. While in the Czech Republic, he wrangled with Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟), a former secretary-general of the presidential office, over who really represented Taiwan at the Forum 2000 conference. In the US, he criticized the DPP government for leading the country down the path to "ruin" over the past three years.

Lien's remarks provoked a backlash and accusations that he was airing the nation's dirty laundry overseas. Even Lien's new cross-strait rhetoric has stirred up big trouble. At a meeting held by the US-China Policy Foundation on Capitol Hill on Oct. 21, Lien pushed the line that "one China" refers to the Republic of China, apparently different to the People's Republic of China.

Lien's remarks convey nothing new, nor can they resolve the real-life problems facing Taiwan. Instead, they have created a new dispute within the blue camp. Lien's position -- that "one China" means the ROC -- has been the KMT's traditional position since the party retreated to Taiwan in 1949. But the ROC lost its right to represent China after losing its UN seat in 1971.

Lien's proposal will not find acceptance in China, Taiwan or anywhere else in the rest of the world. This is why former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), after 12 years at the helm, finally decided to announce the demise of the ROC and lobby for a change of the national title to "Taiwan."

Lien's latest "one China" rhetoric has overturned his previous support for a confederation with China, as well as the People First Party's (PFP) "one China rooftop" framework. This will result in a policy conflict between the cross-strait policies of the KMT and the PFP, thereby heightening tensions within the pan-blue camp.

In fact, Lien's new position is the same as Chen Shui-bian's "one country on each side" of the Taiwan Strait dictum. It came as no surprise then that Premier Yu Shyi-kun welcomed Lien's "change of heart" regarding the nation's status and Lien's "support" for Chen's "one country on each side."

Ever since they teamed up for next year's election, the KMT and PFP have focused on negative campaigning. They have failed to present any concrete policy platform. Meanwhile, Chen and Lee have been presenting a succession of policies -- from introducing referendums to changing the country's name to enacting a new constitution. The KMT and the PFP have shown a pronounced inability to lead policy debate. And the one policy proposed by Lien has turned into a campaign booster for the DPP. The blue camp's lead in the polls may not last for too much longer if this situation continues.

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