The Year of the Fire Dog has kicked off on a positive note for Taiwan, thanks to the boldness and vision of President Chen Shui-bian. As a neutral observer of cross-straits relations, I agree with Chen that the timing is now appropriate to consider abolishing the National Unification Council and unification guidelines.
Why should a council exist when it serves no purpose, both in the current climate and in the foreseeable future? Ask any neutral observer of cross-straits relations and the answer is likely to be that Taiwan and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are two independent and sovereign countries.
Regardless of how deep the PRC's desire to seek reunification with Taiwan is, two facts are undeniable. Firstly, Taiwan (or as some would still term it, the Republic of China) has been governed separately from the PRC for the past 57 years.
Secondly, the issue of reunification has to be approached based on a principle of two equal entities (and not on a superior-subordinate mentality) and, ultimately, decided upon by the 23 million Taiwanese, and not by the one-sided aspirations of the Chinese government or the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
I have always taken the view that KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Thus, I was disappointed to note his comments which suggested that Chen's credibility would be questioned if he decides to scrap the council and guidelines, just because he had promised before his election and re-election that he would not abolish them.
Both the KMT (who apparently seeks to politicize an honest statement by Chen) and the US government should note that in reality, Chen's promises were based on the condition that the PRC does not pose any threat to Taiwan. I believe that even Ma and the KMT would be forced to admit that China has been threatening Taiwan (both verbally and through the build-up of missiles aimed at the island) over the past six years.
Allow me to illustrate the situation further with an analogy. A couple gets married and takes their wedding vows, promising to take care of each other forever. Some time later, they realize that circumstances have changed and a divorce is in the interests of both parties. Do we then say that the promises and vows made earlier have affected the credibility of the couple? The wedding vows, like Chen's promises, were made upon certain conditions.
While it has been reported that some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators were not happy with Chen's announcement, it was heartening to note that several DPP heavyweights such as Vice President Annette Lu (
In my humble opinion, Taiwan is blessed and fortunate to have had Chen as its president over the past six years. He has shown himself to be a man with firm beliefs and when faced with threats and pressure, he has not compromised on his vision of making Taiwan a dignified, sovereign nation.