Fri, May 06, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Will Soong do the right thing?

People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) has arrived in China for a nine-day trip, during which he is expected to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). While there is no reason to believe that Soong's trip will accomplish anything substantively constructive, one cannot help but hope that he will at least outperform his presidential running mate, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), by accurately conveying to Hu the Taiwanese people's outrage and disappointment following the enactment of the "Anti-Secession Law," as well as the sense of pride in Taiwan's democratic accomplishments.

However, based on the remarks Soong issued before departing for China, it is likely that this very humble hope will be disappointed.

Frankly speaking, other than the pair of pandas that Beijing has promised to give to Taiwan, it is difficult to see what good has come out of Lien's meeting with Hu. Given that some critics say that sending the nearly-extinct pandas to Taiwan would constitute animal cruelty, Lien's trip is officially meaningless. Surely Soong, being the proud man that he is, aspires to do better than that. For that to happen, Soong must avoid repeating Lien's mistake of acting as a "yes man" to Hu. Speak and behave as an "advocate" for the interests of Taiwan, please.

Soong has said that he is not a messenger for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁). At the very least, now that the trip has become an irreversible fact, do some good by acting as a messenger of the people of Taiwan and tell Hu how they genuinely feel.

Unfortunately, Soong appeared to be headed in the wrong direction even before he left. Based on his comments so far, he seems determined to follow Lien's example and use the so-called "1992 consensus" as the basis for discussions with Hu. If that is all he intends to do, then his trip will add nothing significant. As the second opposition party leader to meet with Hu, Soong's visit would be completely overshadowed by Lien's in terms of newsworthiness.

According to Soong, he is meeting with Hu with the so-called "10-point consensus" he signed with Chen. While he and Chen both deny that Soong will be acting as a representative of the Taiwanese government and said that the meeting with Hu would be strictly on a party-to-party basis, the existence of the "10-point consensus" would seem to tacitly add some weight to what Soong has to say to Hu. This is reinforced by the fact that Chen indicated on Tuesday that he has not retreated from the 10-point consensus and that he will acknowledge whatever he has accepted in writing.

The problem is that nowhere in the Chen-Soong 10-point consensus can one find the so-called "1992 consensus." In fact, Chen and the Taiwanese government have consistently repudiated the existence of any such consensus. What Chen acknowledged in his joint statement with Soong was the legitimacy of the Republic of China, as defined by the Constitution. The so-called "1992 consensus" is supposedly an agreement to accept the "one China" principle with each side of the Taiwan Strait free to define what "one China" is. To equate the two is a difficult stretch requiring an active imagination.

Since Soong is such a self-proclaimed die-hard defender of the "Republic of China," he should at least have enough courage to utter the name the "Republic of China" while in China. If he does, he will have outperformed Lien, who was so overwhelmed by the imperial reception accorded by Beijing that he completely forgot his favorite slogan -- "one China" is the "Republic of China."

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