Sat, May 07, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chen urges unity at DPP meeting; says he hasn't wavered

`HAVE CONFIDENCE' The president tried to rally party members to keep faith with the DPP, despite recent polls that showed falling support

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) last night stressed that he had not altered his basic stance on upholding Taiwan's national sovereignty and dignity, amid the recent controversy triggered by opposition party leaders' trips to China.

"We will never waver in our insistence to push forward democratic reforms, and we will uphold the political line of identifying with Taiwan," Chen said. "And we will continue to commit ourselves to turning Taiwan into a normal, progressive, beautiful and great country."

The president made the remarks last night while meeting with ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) city and county chiefs, legislators and party leadership to communicate with them on the controversy within the party regarding Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party Chairman James Soong's (宋楚瑜) visits to China.

The remarks were made against the backdrop of criticism that the DPP leadership's stance toward the visits has been inconsistent, which has caused party members' support to waver in the runup to next Saturday's National Assembly elections.

Noting that China is well known for its "united front" tactics against Taiwan -- which aim to co-opt key sectors of Taiwanese society in order to further Beijing's goal of unification -- Chen urged the party and public to stay united, saying that only China would benefit if the nation becomes divided.

"Just because recent polls suggest that support for the DPP has declined, [that doesn't mean that] the grassroots supporters have shifted their support to other parties," Chen said. "Party members need to have confidence in ourselves."

Chen said that while he did not oppose Lien and Soong's trips to China, that does not mean that he agrees with all of their rhetoric during their visits.

Saying that China had attempted to collaborate with the opposition parties to influence the upcoming election and hence prevent democratic reforms, Chen called on party members to stay united and confident.

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