Wed, Dec 07, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Standing firm to cross-strait pressure

To keep up the momentum following their victory in last Saturday's local government elections, pan-blue legislators yesterday resumed pressing the government to relax its China policy. Although the Democratic Progressive Party suffered an unprecedented defeat, it must not bow to political pressure, but must continue to uphold Taiwan's interests and maintain consistency in the country's China policy.

Yesterday, the pan-blues proposed that flights from Macau and Hong Kong should be allowed to make use of Taipei's Sungshan Airport. The pan-blues also want to put a "direct transport links" bill up for its second reading in the legislature on top of the "cross-strait peace advancement bill," which is already being discussed. These tactics are clearly aimed at compelling the government to compromise on all its principles regarding China. But the question we must ask is what benefit such compromises will bring to Taiwanese people?

The runway of Taipei's Sungshan Airport is too short to efficiently accommodate flights from Macau and Hong Kong. Quite apart from this, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has indicated that the airport has already reached its capacity in handling domestic flights, and at best only eight flights from Macau or Hong Kong could be accommodated each day. Not to mention the as yet unsolved security question, and the crucial problem of China's unwillingness to negotiate with the government on direct cross-strait charter flights remains. In such circumstances, it is rather meaningless to open up Sungshan up to China, unless it is simply to precipitate the dissolution of the government's cross-strait policy.

Recent statements regarding the relaxing or tightening of cross-strait policy should be regarded as no more than pre-election rhetoric and not given too much weight. Moreover, these were only local government elections, so now is clearly time for the emotions of the campaign to be put aside and for cross-strait policy to be given mature and dispassionate consideration based on the best interests of the Taiwanese people.

The pros and cons of legislating for direct cross-strait flights prior to negotiating the principles of direct flights for cargo and passenger flights across the Taiwan Strait are perfectly clear, and the pan-blue camp's efforts to "slice off its own flesh to feed the vultures" will certainly meet with public censure.

The cross-strait peace advancement bill is an even bigger policy black hole, for it is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but it goes against the best interests of the people. If the pan-blues push this law through in the aftermath of their electoral success, they will bring disaster down on the heads of all Taiwanese.

As a legal expert and a former deputy chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), should understand the absurdity of such a law. Prior to the elections, Ma may have been unwilling to undermine pan-blue cooperation by making a clear statement regarding this law, but now, with Ma riding high on a wave of pan-blue support and the manifest decline of the People First Party (PFP), Ma should come out with a clearly stated position on this bill.

There is no need to make any concessions to the extreme ideas of the PFP and any assessment of the law should be made on the basis of the best interests of the Taiwanese people and with the goal of creating benign interaction between the government, the opposition and China.

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