Wed, May 04, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: It's time for Lien to come clean

Last night, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) returned to Taiwan from China. His visit reveals that the idea of "China" is embedded in his political genes, and it has led to a highly charged response from the Taiwanese public, who either love or detest him for it. They have made their feelings clear through demonstrations of support and protest during his departure and his return.

And when Lien and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) shook hands, symbolizing the end of animosity between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it also resulted in an intensification of conflict between the pan-green and pan-blue camps.

In the past the pan-blue camp only flirted with China. Now, Lien's visit has brought the relationship to a more substantial level. The KMT has direct contact with the CCP and has established a platform for party-to-party relations.

This is bitterly ironic. The Presidential Office is only half a kilometer from KMT headquarters. Yet the KMT and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have failed to establish a platform for party-to-party relations in the five years of Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) presidency. Lien has only met with Chen once and spoken with him once on the telephone.

The Lien-Hu memorandum says that the two sides should establish a military confidence-building mechanism. This is little more than hot air, given that the KMT and the DPP have failed to agree on basic military matters. As a result of a pan-blue boycott, the arms-procurement bill has languished in the legislature for years. Before confidence-building mechanisms can be put in place, it is first necessary to establish military stability across the Taiwan Strait. If the military disparity is too wide, putting our cards on the table will only invite China to use force.

The top priority therefore is to monitor the military situation through international inspections. This is the only way to achieve peace. Preaching peace with a hostile nation without building a force sufficient to repel an invasion is empty talk.

During his trip, Lien said that he, his family and his party had historical links with China. We want to remind him that he only spent 10 years in China as a child, and that it was his 60-year career in Taiwan that gave him affluence and influence. The KMT existed in Taiwan is much longer than its history in mainland. In Taiwan, it has a 60-year history. Lien's desire, like his party, to indulge in nostalgia is understandable, but regardless of any connection Lien and his party have with China, his actions should give absolute priority to the Taiwanese people.

Lien's trip has succeeded in cementing a place, however small, in China's history. It has also generated reasonable suspicion that he is preparing to act treacherously against Taiwan. On his return, Lien should present Chen with a report on his trip. He should also instruct the KMT legislative caucus to end its boycott of the arms-procurement budget. This will help repair the damage he has done to his image among Taiwanese people.

Lien must show that domestic stability is on his agenda, otherwise he will have demonstrated that Taiwan's basic interests do not coincide with his own.

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