Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Talk is not cheap in cross-strait relations

By Ku Er-teh 顧爾德

On Dec. 16, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said during an interview with the China Times that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has never opposed the "one country on each side" dictum. Nor has it stressed the so-called "one China" principle, he said. The blue camp does not talk about "one China" or the Taiwan independence issue, Wang said, but the blue camp does not oppose independence and says "it will not rule out the option of an independent Taiwan in the future."

Wang's remarks were immediately attacked by the pan-green camp. Indeed, the "1992 consensus" and the notion of "one China, with each side making its own interpretation" have always been the keynotes of the KMT's cross-strait policy. Since when has it changed its stance? Did the chairman of the pan-blue camp's presidential election campaign make the comments simply to attract votes?

Even though the impression that politicians are irresponsible in their talk remains deeply embedded in the public mind, for a political heavyweight like Wang -- whether he's responsible or not -- at least thinks thoroughly before he speaks, and makes comments for specific purposes. The purpose of his recent remarks is to win over the support of local voters. As he said, "The blue camp will repeatedly strengthen its emphasis on the localization discourse in the election battle."

The problem therefore lies in voters themselves. Wang's comments on cross-strait relations show that this kind of talk is popular with voters. If that is the case, the blue camp can surely understand why President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) insists on launching a "defensive referendum," because a referendum will highlight the issue of self-determination, as well as please voters.

Has the referendum issue offended the US or even damaged the trust between Taipei and Washington? Perhaps. But, if not for its concerns about a backlash from voters, the KMT would not have kept a "defensive referendum" clause in the law, allowing Chen the space to maneuver. As the opposition's legislative speaker, Wang is responsible for the passage of the Referendum Law (公投法).

Wang's talk was considered honest. In fact, his honesty has highlighted a fundamental problem: neither the ruling nor the opposition camp has yet touched on core policies in the run-up to the election.

We all know that a "greater China economic circle" is forming now, and that most people favor the opening of direct links between the two sides of the Strait. However, Beijing will only return to the negotiating table under the condition of the "one China" principle. Unwilling to accept this condition, Chen has turned to a hardline stance from his "five noes" policy. How will the blue camp deal with the problem once it comes to power?

The blue camp can criticize the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) government for failing to propose policies to solve these problems. In the past, the blue camp only tried to avoid such problems by criticizing Chen. But Wang's honesty has highlighted the necessity for the blue camp to face these problems.

Nevertheless, Wang is still not honest enough. He said that the pivotal campaign issues are the economy, unemployment, education reforms and government finance, and that neither sovereignty nor cross-strait relations are priority issues on the blue camp's agenda. The problem is: when the economy goes wrong, the blue camp often links it to cross-strait relations, but it usually switches its focus back to voters when it comes to elections.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top