Fri, May 13, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Soong-Hu meeting an anti-climax

The supposed climax of People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) trip to China took place yesterday, when he finally met with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). Although many observers had assigned slightly more significance to Soong's meeting with Hu than the prior meeting between Hu and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) as a result of the 10-point consensus Soong had reached with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), it is hard to find any substantive and innovative surprises in the Soong-Hu talks.

So far, it is hard to see any constructive difference between Soong's and Lien's trips. In fact, judging from the reception they received and their travel itineraries, it is obvious that Beijing made painstaking efforts to offer them "non-discriminatory" and "equal" treatment. Soong's trip is almost an exactly replica of the one Lien undertook before him.

As for conducting substantive talks with Chinese officials, nothing they said had not been uttered before. At the core of all their speeches is still the "one China" principle and the so-called "1992 consensus," under which this principle is supposedly recognized. In other words, the fundamental roadblock preventing any progress in the cross-strait relationship remains.

As for Soong's performance, he was under severe public pressure to advocate the interests and speak the mind of the Taiwanese people, and eager to outdo Lien (which wouldn't be hard at all), Soong did make some effort to touch on the sentiments of the people of Taiwan, although he made no mention of the "Anti-Secession" Law or Taiwan's democratic accomplishments. Moreover, each time he gets warmed up, he backs down and reiterates the same old slogans about "one China" and the "1992 consensus."

So, at the end, the only thing the general public remembers about the meeting is the supposed "1992 consensus." This is truly a sad thing, since the Presidential Office on Wednesday reiterated that the Taiwanese government does not acknowledge that a consensus had ever been reached. By officially contradicting the government on such an important issue, Soong effectively stripped off any tactful political significance his meeting with Hu might have had.

On the other hand, not only is there no mention of the "1992 consensus" in Chen and Soong's 10-point communique, Soong's statement that "Taiwan independence is not an option" also directly conflicts with the 10-point consensus. As pointed out by the Presidential Office, the sixth point of the Chen-Soong consensus specifically states that "any change to the status quo of the Taiwan Strait will require the consent of the 23 million Taiwanese people, made on the basis of good faith across the Strait; no model of development between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can be ruled out." In other words, Soong had himself acknowledged that Taiwan independence is an option.

In the fundamental spirit of democracy, the people of Taiwan have every right to decide their own future -- independence definitely being among their options. It is a right which no politician can take away. One cannot help but wonder how politicians such as Soong and Lien can do something so contradictory to the fundamental principle of democracy, and then come back to bask in the benefits of Taiwan's democratic accomplishments.

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