Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 8 News List

The country must stand its ground

By Chin Heng-wei 金恆煒

Whenever President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) makes a transit stop in the US en route to visit allies in the Caribbean and Latin America, it always provides a measure of the state of Taiwan-US relations.

During his just-concluded trip to Paraguay and Costa Rica, Chen and his entourage were only offered a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska. In protest against Washington's decision, Chen instead made a detour, with stopovers in Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam. Chen's efforts to maintain Taiwan's dignity have not only won him the respect and support of the Taiwanese, it also showed that the determined Chen of the past is back.

On May 5, US representatives Tom Tancredo and Dana Rohrabacher, both members of the House International Relations Committee, sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice questioning the department's unfair treatment of Chen, pointing out that "the Department of State continues to behave in a matter that seems more consistent with the posturing of China's Foreign Ministry than the direction of the US Congress."

This is evidence that the US' unfair, unjust and unequal treatment is a result of Chinese pressure and Chen has not only demonstrated his ability to deal with unforeseen contingencies, but also told both the US and China that Taiwan will not be humiliated and that it is an independent nation.

Washington's rejection of Chen's request to transit through the US mainland has highlighted the predicament facing Taiwan on the diplomatic front. If Chen rises to confront the US government, then he is sure to deal a blow to US-Taiwan relations, but since Taiwan has gained the upper hand in this matter, we have to wait and see how the US will respond.

Will the US still need Taiwan as one of the first island-nations in its chain of security off the East Asian coastline? Does it still intend to contain China's "non-peaceful rise?" What will it see as the proper way of dealing with the Taiwan question? These are important issues that the US government and opposition will have to contemplate.

Taiwan is now at a historic turning point and this is something that not only the US but also all Taiwanese and particularly the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), should ponder. Last Sunday, the DPP held a conference on party reform to reaffirm the fundamental values of the party. The most important thing, however, is that the DPP must realize its historical mission and responsibility; this is the source of its fundamental values.

Taiwan's historic mission is not just to let the Taiwanese people stand up, through the transition of power or the termination of the alien regime. The most urgent issue is to prevent the disintegration of Taiwan's freedom and democracy and to fight the goal of unification that is the basic objective of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The relationship between KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) is strained to the breaking point. However, Ma has taken advantage of the KMT-CCP economic forum. When Lien last month attended the KMT-CCP forum with the support of Beijing, China invited 50 Taiwanese business tycoons to travel with Lien to add to the prestige of the forum, Ma responded by saying that "This is the direction that people have hoped for."

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