Sat, Nov 13, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Seize the opportunity for peace

There are two ways to achieve peace. One of these is to bring about peace through war, but this is a zero-sum option. The other is to achieve it through peaceful means. This is a peace in which both parties will win.

China has been advocating the former to impose peace across the Taiwan Strait, whereas Taiwan has been doing its best to achieve peace through the latter method. On Wednesday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) proposed ten points during a high level meeting of the National Security Council, some of which were new policy proposals. These are the sum of all the efforts of the past four years of the Chen administration. The US, China and Taiwan should take advantage of the next year to try to achieve a more peaceful environment across the Taiwan Strait.

Foremost among these ten proposals for peace is the call to defuse the military tension in the Strait. This includes military cuts, a reduction in the length of compulsory military service, an assurance that there will be no development of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and requiring China not to attack Taiwan with WMDs.

In order to avoid misunderstandings or the possibility of sparking a conflict, it was also recommended that both sides of the Strait agree on a military buffer zone. Fighter jets or warships belonging to either side should avoid entering this zone unless necessary, and if such a necessity arises, prior notice must be given to the other side. Another proposal is that a Taiwan Strait military security consultative mechanism is established, which will gradually become a "Code of Conduct across the Strait." This will be along the lines of the 1972 US-Russian Agreement on the Prevention of Incidents at Sea and the US-China Military Maritime Consultative Agreement of 1998.

In an attempt to break through the impasse in negotiations, Taiwan has tried to reduce the differences over the source of the conflict, namely the "1992 consensus" and the "one China" concept. It has made much of the spirit of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong as a means of smoothing over differences. Taiwan is also seeking talks with China over the issues of two-way reciprocal flights that do not stop in a third place. Chen's government wants to come to an agreement over cargo flights and charter passenger flights during the Lunar New Year, using the Taiwan-Hong Kong aviation agreement as a model. This will be a turning point for direct flights across the Strait, and will make things a lot more convenient for people from both sides to travel back and forth. If this can be achieved, the establishment of the three links will be possible.

In Taiwan, the confrontation between supporters of unification and of independence has neutralized the nation's political energy. From the perspective of China and the international community, it raises a question mark about the consistency of Taiwan's policies. Therefore, prior to any cross-strait negotiations, it is important that Taiwan streamline its own position.

Chen has invited members of the opposition to participate in the formation of a Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development, and has stated that he has no objection to appointing a leader of the opposition as chairman, so that government and opposition can work together to formulate guidelines for the development of cross-strait peace, and actively seek to achieve stability in the Strait.

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