Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Chen has a good grasp on political realities

By Wang Kao-cheng王高成

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) held a National Security Council meeting on Nov. 10 to discuss Taiwan's cross-strait policies in the aftermath of the Nov. 2 US presidential election. During the meeting, Chen proposed 10 points, among which were some new ideas. The impact of Chen's points on the US-China relationship and Taiwan's political parties is worth further attention.

The timing of the security meeting was closely related to the possible direction of the US' policy toward Taiwan after the presidential election and recent developments in cross-strait relations. From the US perspective, President George W. Bush's re-election means the continuance of anti-terror policies and as a result the US may not change its Taiwan policy.

In a speech by US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly recently in Washington seems to verify this point. But, if we take a closer look, its anti-terror policy will cause the US to demand Taiwan show restraint, and this will put pressure on Taiwan's diplomacy and policies toward China. The outcome of the impending two-day meeting between Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) beginning on Nov. 20 at the APEC summit in Chile is of great concern to the nation and we must be prepared to respond.

There are a few key directions derived from Chen's "10 points," as they have been dubbed. Taiwan once again should show good faith in the development of cross-strait relations, including urging China to grasp the "window of opportunity" to resume cross-strait dialogue, taking the consultative model used for Taiwan-Hong Kong air routes to negotiate cross-strait direct chartered flights, and demarcate military buffer zones to prevent accidental conflicts between the two sides of the Strait. The purpose of this is to mend and promote US-Taiwan relations by making clear to the Bush administration that Taiwan is sincerely seeking a peaceful cross-strait resolution.

As for China, Taiwan aims to remove Beijing's doubts and push it to give up the thought of a military attack. If Beijing is willing to accept our goodwill and respond with positive feedback, this will naturally reduce the military threat, or at least prevent the escalation of cross-strait tensions.

The conclusions of the National Security Council are meant to restrain the tendency of high-ranking government officials to advocate Taiwan's independence. Apart from showing an understanding of why Beijing would want to insist on its "one-China" principle, we must also urge China to face the fact of the existence of the Republic of China (ROC). By affirming the existence of the ROC, we are able to eliminate the concerns of China and the US on the issue of Taiwan gradually pushing for independence. To promote the "small three links," we should reiterate the use of the spirit of the 1992 Hong Kong meeting to emphasize that the so-called "1992 consensus" is not totally impossible to achieve.

The most innovative part of the meeting's conclusions was the reiteration of a willingness, for humanitarian reasons and in compliance with international norms, to publicly promise that we will not develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and to urge China to do the same.

This point, of course, is aimed at the Bush administration, which is currently emphasizing that the world call a halt to the spread of WMDs. The point also reduces concerns in the US and internationally concerns over Taiwan's possible intention to clandestinely develop WMDs after the recent controversy sparked by Premier Yu Shyi-kun's use of the phrase "balance of terror."

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