Wed, Nov 17, 2004 - Page 8 News List

President Chen taking high road

By Tung Chen-yuan童振源

In response to the latest development since the US presidential election, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) proposed 10 points during a National Security Council meeting on Nov. 10. According to Chen's second point, "our governmental agencies will actively formulate a `sunshine policy' for the resumption of dialogue, decreasing tension and enhancing cooperation and development" across the Taiwan Strait.

From his Double Ten National Day speech to the recent 10 points, Chen's strategy in the triangular Taiwan-China-US relationship is obviously to combat China's "dark forces" with Taiwan's "sunshine policy."

Taipei and Washington have lost almost all their mutual trust in the face of the Sino-US constructive cooperative partnership shaped by Sept. 11, and Chen's "one country on each side" dictum proposed in August 2002, as well as the uproars caused by his push for a new constitution through a referendum during his presidential campaign.

This leads us to a relatively unfavorable position in the triangular relationship. Not only is US President George W. Bush worried that Taiwan will cause troubles for the US, but he is also worried that the US will be dragged into a cross-strait war if it breaks out.

Although the US was positive about Chen's inaugural speech on March 20, it has doubts about Tai-wan's push for a new constitution and it sees the country as a potential threat to regional stability. To dispel US doubts, Chen emphasized in his Oct. 10 speech that China's military force poses "the greatest `shadows of terror' and `forces of darkness'" to the status quo in the Strait, regional stability and world peace.

He also proposed establishing a framework for cross-strait peace -- including taking the spirit of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong as the basis for talks, establishing a mechanism for military mutual trust, reviewing the arms policies of both sides, establishing a code of conduct across the Strait to guarantee permanent peace, formulating a plan that provides convenient and efficient means to facilitate chartered flights for passengers and cargo and establishing a committee for cross-strait peace and development.

However, a week before the US presidential election, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Beijing that "Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation ... So both sides should move forward toward a peaceful unification."

Both Powell and the Department of State later clarified that the US' Taiwan policy remains unchanged, and reaffirmed the "six assurances." But Taipei still feels uneasy, worrying that Powell's words were a sign of Washington's compromise to Beijing on the cross-strait issue.

Therefore, before Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Bush meet at the APEC summit in Chile on Saturday, Chen stressed again that Taiwan's cross-strait policy is combating the "dark forces" with a "sunshine policy," calling on the US not to ignore Taipei's constructive goodwill or favor Beijing.

Chen's 10 points were directed at Washington, as the first point clearly expresses Taiwan's appreciation to the US support, and emphasizes that "Taiwan and the US -- as an alliance of shared-values based on existing foundations -- should continue to collaborate together to safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."

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