The pan-blue camp, which had initially vowed "to stop the national referendum on the issue of independence or unification, even if it meant losing the election," has taken a U-turn by announcing "ten principles on amending the Constitution." The pan-blues are now in favor of incorporating the right to a national referendum within the Constitution next year, and then approving a new constitution via a public referendum in 2005.
As a result, the issue of a new constitution has once again become the focus of debate between the ruling and opposition camps. What caused the pan-blues to hastily propose such a short timetable for the new Constitution? Obviously, it is a move made as a result of the pan blues' inability to gain control of the campaign's issues.
It has been suggested that if the opposition adopts policies that are identical to those of the ruling party in every respect, the voters will be forced to distinguish between the two parties by comparing the ruling party's policy implementation with that of the opposition party when it was in power. This way, the opposition might have a shot at winning the election.
The point is to confine the scope of the debate so as to trap the ruling party in quicksand and thereby accomplish the opposition's goal of defeating the ruling party. Therefore, no wonder the pan-blue camp has gone from opposing public referendums, to proposing an ultraconservative referendum bill. to shortening the timetable for a new constitution.
Although the pan-blues have proposed a bill in support of national referendums, the restrictions they have set -- amending the Constitution instead of writing a new one, insisting that the basic principles of the new constitution must be the same as those of the current one -- reveal conservatism and insincerity.
The pan-blue camp is simply using support for national referendums as part of its campaign strategy.
Whether the pan-blue camp indeed is thinking of nothing but the long-term welfare and future of Taiwan or simply trying to leave behind the "one China" curse is something that China knows best. On Nov. 17, the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China issued a coercive declaration on the hotly debated issue of a new constitution for Taiwan, with President Chen Shui-bian (
He went on to warn that "anyone who tries to separate Taiwan from China will be struck head on by the 1.3 billion Chinese including the Taiwanese comrades." From this declaration, it can be seen that while the issue of drafting a new constitution will necessarily become the subject of discussion and decision-making by the people, and that no substantive conclusion has been reached just yet, the Chinese government has already concluded that Chen will push for a public referendum on the issue of Taiwan's independence and the establishment of a Taiwan Republic. This is why Chen became the target of Chinese threats.