Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chen adds Mongolia to strait debate

CHANGING TACK KMT Chairman Lien Chan earlier endorsed President Chen Shui-bian's cross-strait-countries theory, and then Mongolia entered the scene

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said that there are "three countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait" following Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) endorsement of his view that there are independent countries on each side across the strait.

"There's no such problem as `one China with each side's individual interpretations' (一中各表) because cross-strait relations involve three countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait. They are Taiwan, China and Mongolia," Chen said.

Chen made the remarks yesterday morning while attending a members' conference of the Tainan County and City Association in Taishan, Taipei County. Chen is a native of Tainan County.

Chen said that the Republic of China (ROC) used to rule China when it was founded in 1911. Then it became the ROC on Taiwan when the Nationalists lost the civil war and relocated to Taiwan in 1949.

Three countries

"Now the Republic of China is Taiwan. Therefore, there's three countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait and they're the ROC, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Mongolia," he said.

The former KMT administration used to claim sovereignty over China, Tibet and Mongolia, a stance that caused tension between Taiwan and the three countries.

Many of the problems between Taiwan and Tibet were resolved in January this year when a new Taiwan-Tibet Exchange Foundation was established to take over the Cabinet-level Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission.

Ties between Taipei and Ulan Bator improved dramatically early last year after the Cabinet revised the laws governing Taiwan-China relations and removed claims that Mongolia was part of Chinese territory "to comply with international realities."

The two countries followed up on this diplomatic exchange by opening representative offices in each other's capitals late last year.

Moving away from the KMT's long-time policy of unification with China, Lien surprisingly announced on Saturday during a campaign rally in Taipei that "on each side [of the strait], there's a country."

Lien, however, asked whether Chen's "one country on each side" theory was actually advocating "three countries on either side." The "three countries" were the PRC , the ROC and the virtual "Republic of Taiwan," he said.

Changing strategy

While the pan-blue alliance used to embrace the "1992 consensus," or the notion of "one China, with each side making its own interpretation," it continued to change its cross-strait strategy over the years.

PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) once proposed "integration under a one-China roof."

KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) confederated Soong's dictum to the recent "two-Chinas status quo."

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who heads the pan-blue alliance's presidential campaign headquarters, said last Tuesday that the pan-blue bloc will shift its strategy to maintain the status quo and pursue cross-strait stability, and that it will not rule out Taiwanese independence.

Commenting on the blue camp's policy flip-flop, Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信), director of the DPP's Chinese Affairs Department, said that Lien owes the public an explanation regarding its China policy.

"When President Chen first introduced the `one country on each side' theory, Lien criticized it harshly. Now he turned around to endorse it, but still didn't have the guts to say that Taiwan is an independent sovereign country," he said.

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