Thu, May 05, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Letter: KMT unlearns old lessons

By Mark Caltonhill

In a radical move to outflank the government of Taiwan, CCP leaders sounded out the possibility of inviting figures from outside Taiwan's governing party for discussions on the unification of China and Taiwan. April 2005?

Try April 1985, during the declining years of the Chiang dynasty's one-party state. Apparently, the suggestion came from the widow of People's Republic of China premier Chou En-lai (周恩來) in her capacity as chairperson of the People's Political Consultative Committee. (It also shows what a poor understanding the Beijing authorities had of Taiwan's politics.)

Naturally, such a move was dismissed by the KMT as a "New Trick, Same Game." In its editorial of April 14, 1985, the Free China Journal described Mrs. Chou as "seeking to tempt non-party people into the discussions. A new ploy in the Communist's united front tricks."

The government newspaper (which, interestingly, until six months earlier had been published by one James Soong in his role as director-general of the Government Information Office) then continued, "The government of the Republic of China and the KMT have refused to negotiate because the Communists' record of keeping promises made in negotiations is a disaster. For the Taiwanese, there is nothing to gain, but everything to lose. Tibet is one very good example and Hong Kong is on the same path."

Incidentally, how significant a phrase: "For the people now living in Taiwan" in terms of the people that the KMT felt it represented. And what a good choice of examples: while the rest of the world has been saddened and shocked by subsequent developments in Tibet and Hong Kong, it would seem that Soong and his on-again-off-again buddy, KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), feel that the PRC has changed its spots in the last two decades and is now ready to keep its word.

What promises Lien and Soong are making in Beijing, the people of Taiwan can only wonder and worry.

Mark Caltonhill

Taipei County

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