Mon, May 16, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Did Lien outsmart himself?

By Huang Jei-hsuan

China's enactment of its "Anti-Secession" Law continues to reverberate.

In a May 5 phone call to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), US President George W. Bush reportedly reminded Hu to talk to President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in addition to the opposition party leaders. For Taiwan, the significance attached to this phone call can't be overstated.

It's apparent that the US government has realized the inherent danger of China's "law" and, as a response, has been trying to push China to the conference table.

Beijing's first reaction was to stick with its disingenuous nature by inviting for a visit to Beijing the two pro-China opposition party chairmen -- namely, Lien Chan (連戰) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and James Soong (宋楚瑜) of the People's First Party (PFP).

We are, therefore, witnessing one of the backlashes of China's promulgation of its "law," as the US is now justifiably pushing China to reach out to Taiwan. This makes easier Chen's insistence on Taiwan's sovereignty and an equal footing for talks based on the principle of peace. That, in turn however, would render any talks between Taiwan and China almost dead on arrival, because of China's inability to accept Taiwan's sovereignty and its insistence on peace as preconditions.

Sooner of later, the US would attempt and succeed in convincing China -- or, they might mutually become convinced -- that the only viable alternative for resolving the cross-strait issue peacefully would be multi-nation talks. That, incidentally, was the only format endorsed by former president Lee Tung-hui (李登輝) and hence illustrates the converging nature of the causes of various pan-green groups.

In the meantime, Chen and his Cabinet have to be fully engaged in every stage of the transaction leading up to, or even including, the resolution.

In order to have all parties -- which could potentially be involved in a future multi-nation talk -- convinced of its absolute necessity, the possibility of direct talks between China and Taiwan must first be exhausted and its futility demonstrated.

Therefore, the process at times might even entail a change of direction or a detour to bypass obstacles. But the realistic goals of Chen's government differ little from those of the Taiwan Solidarity Union or the rest of the Democratic Progressive Party. That's why the current quarrels among pan-green supporters seem so sadly confounding.

Perhaps it's worth bearing in mind that personal egos should always take a back seat to the interests of the people of Taiwan -- the very survival of which can ill afford a fractured pan-green camp during regular times, let alone now.

While in Beijing, Lien made a wholesale promise to uproot Taiwan's democracy by collaborating with Beijing. This should be quite offensive to Washington. Now that he is back in Taiwan, the greatest fear is that many pan-blue politicians will follow his lead and try to destabilize Chen's government.

Bush, in his phone call to Hu, specifically referred to Chen as the Taiwanese president and a duly elected leader, in an apparent attempt to buttress Chen's position. This ought to make other pan-blue leaders think twice before signing on to everything Lien advocated during his China visit.

Furthermore, any KMT member that aspires to be a candidate in the 2008 presidential election might have to denounce Lien somewhere down the line.

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