Thu, Apr 28, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Will Lien fiddle as Taiwan burns?

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) "journey of peace" to China triggered massive violence between pro-unification and independence forces at the CKS International Airport on Tuesday. The violence was not unexpected. However, for the sake of his personal vanity and political ambition, Lien still went ahead with his trip, disregarding warnings that his action could split Taiwan.

Lien's political gamble that started with such scenes of violence demonstrated the domestic political crisis is much greater than the cross-strait crisis. Lien's real aim is to win China's support for his struggle against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and thereby return to power.

Before the people of Taiwan reach a consensus on the China issue, any political move that attempts to make peace or unite with Beijing will only deepen disagreement and hatred in society. For example, when Lien and his delegation received red-carpet treatment in Nanjing on Tuesday, perhaps they were proud and self-satisfied, but people with strong Taiwan consciousness felt humiliated as they watched Lien's smirking on TV, and could only have felt deeply hurt. After all, China has only recently passed an "Anti-Secession" Law, which legitimizes the use of military force against this country.

This is the source of Tuesday's violence -- the fact that satisfying Lien's vanity comes at the cost of the humiliation of the Taiwanese people. This humiliation will only deepen feelings of hatred and will certainly never facilitate cross-strait peace.

A greater cause for anxiety is that Lien is using this trip to insinuate Beijing further into Taiwan's domestic disputes. In the past, come election time, China could only use military and verbal threats to support the pan-blue camp from the sidelines. But China's recent proposal to purchase Taiwan's agricultural produce -- made during KMT Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun's (江丙坤) trip -- is nothing less than an attempt to win the support of southern farmers, thereby undermining the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) electoral base there.

There are mutual benefits to be had for both China and the KMT from these visits. Beijing is clearly willing to throw its money around. If it can buy enough votes, it can help the KMT return to power, where, as a Beijing puppet, it will smooth the way to "peaceful unification." This is an attempt at electoral fraud on an international scale, and the government should bring this situation before the court of international opinion.

Lien should remember that in 1995, then Chinese president Jiang Zemin's (江澤民) "Eight Points" reaffirmed "one China," swore to crush any idea of "two Chinas" or "one China and one Taiwan," rejected renouncing using force to achieve unification and declared that China would use its military might to destroy anyone who sought to establish Taiwan independence with outside support. The then ruling KMT -- including then premier Lien -- rejected the "Eight Points" out of hand.

Since that time, China has not softened its position, and has just passed a law legitimizing the use of force against Taiwan. So why has Lien been in such a hurry to suck up to China, since the KMT is not in power? The answer is clear -- his overweening ambition. Does the dignity of this nation have to be sacrificed to assuage Lien's long history of electoral failure?

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