Wed, Aug 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Speak with one voice on China

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has recently stressed that China's rapid military buildup is a threat to Taiwan and the international community.

When addressing the Democratic Pacific Union and the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations, Chen asked the international community and pan-Pacific nations to view China's military expansion and ambition as presenting "uncertainties that continue to threaten human security." In an interview with the Australian over the weekend, Chen highlighted concerns that many Chinese brides or academics may actually be Chinese spies. And when meeting with last year's Nobel laureate in economics Edward Prescott last Thursday, Chen said that China's proposal to hold talks with Taiwan on direct cross-strait passenger charter flights was "a political trick."

A look at recent China-related policies undertaken by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration however, leads one to wonder whether the president and his government are all on the same page.

The Taipei Airlines Association last Friday got the go-ahead from the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council to talk with China on both passenger and cargo charter flights across the Strait.

The council earlier this month announced that China is willing to deal with the agency commissioned by the council on the issue of opening up the nation to Chinese tourists. The council hailed China's response as a breakthrough in cross-strait relations.

The government currently allows only two categories of Chinese people to visit Taiwan: those who live in a third country, and those who live in China but come to Taiwan on business or en route to other countries.

The latest relaxation is expected to allow 365,000 Chinese tourists per year, or 1,000 people per day, to visit Taiwan for a maximum of 10 days. They will enter Taiwan through either Hong Kong or Macau. Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said "we hope Chinese tourists can come to Taiwan as soon as possible ... We will provide a safe and comfortable environment for them."

But is the DPP government really prepared for the huge influx of Chinese tourists? Can Hsieh promise a safe and comfortable environment for the Taiwanese public after Chinese tourists start flocking to Taiwan?

There's reason for concern. Recently officials have seen an increase in cross-strait movement -- by both legal and illegal means -- in which Chinese criminals and spies enter Taiwan and conspire with domestic criminal gangs. This poses a serious threat to the nation's security, and the National Security Council (NSC) has warned that such ne'er-do-wells' activities in this country are aimed at influencing Taiwan's economy, social order and politics.

Chen has often spoken of China's schemes against Taiwan and urged the public to stay vigilant against Beijing's "united front" (統戰) tactics, which aim to sow division here.

If Chen really means what he says, he should pressure his own party, and agencies mapping out China-related policies, with the same words of warning.

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