Thu, Apr 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Siew: recount bid futile

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) conceded that the pan-blue alliance had little chance of overturning the results of the presidential election but failed to answer questions why the KMT and the People First Party (PFP) were still trying to nullify the ballot.

Siew made his comments in a speech in Washington in which he discussed prospects for cross-strait relations in the wake of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election last month.

"Although the pan-blue camp immediately challenged the election results, and the Taiwan High Court has directed the parties to decide how to conduct a recount of the vote, the prospects for overturning the results or achieving the pan-blues' demand for a new vote do not seem high," he said.

Asked by reporters after his speech to elaborate, Siew said that since the voting system was developed under the KMT, the system was fair and not open to challenge.

"During the counting, the whole system was quite transparent," he said in response to a reporter's question. "It was during our administration that we initiated the system, and the whole system should be quite transparent. So, I don't see much chance to have any kind of overturning," he said.

Asked why the pan-blue camp was still seeking to overturn the results, Siew said that "we need a recount, that's fair game."

In his speech, Siew emphasized the need for stability in cross-strait relations and said he expected China to retain its current policy toward Taiwan over the next four years. He welcomed Chen's conciliatory statements on relations with China before and after the election.

Siew also saw the rise of "Taiwan consciousness" evidenced by the elections as having a "profound and far-reaching effect" on cross-strait relations, and presenting "political realities that the governing authorities in Beijing cannot ignore."

As Beijing contends with that reality over the next four years, "the fundamental goal of [Beijing's] Taiwan policy will be to prevent independence and promote unification," he said. "But if they adopt too hardline a policy toward Taiwan, it is likely to be counterproductive, and will not gain international support."

As a result, the Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) leadership will "be more likely to adopt a pragmatic policy, maintaining an attitude of patience toward Taiwan, and gradually adjusting its interaction with the Chen Shui-bian administration," he said.

Siew noted that Chen reiterated his "four noes" policy during the election campaign and that Chen said his plans for constitutional reform would not involve changing the status quo. He also quoted from Chen's pledge to establish a "framework for peace and stability."

Beijing "should consider this framework with an open mind, and at the same time put forward their own proposals," Siew said.

Siew's statesman-like address was in sharp contrast to a Washington speech Lien Chan (連戰)made last year, in which Lien forcefully condemned the government's policies under Chen.

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