Tue, Feb 14, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Hubbub over Ma's remarks escalates

HE SAID/SHE SAID Pan-blue officials delivered contradictory remarks about talks with China, while the pan-greens asked for Ma Ying-jeou to clarify his stance on unification

STAFF WRITER WITH CNA

The nation's main political parties fought a war of words over cross-strait relations yesterday, with the top pan-blue leader backtracking on his stance regarding talks with China, while a pan-green lawmaker dubbed the opposition's policies hypocritical.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in London yesterday during an interview with Taiwanese and British reporters that engaging in negotiations with China to seek a breakthrough in relations remains the only way for Taiwan to solve thorny cross-strait issues peacefully.

Even in the face of more than 700 missiles targeting Taiwan, the country's leadership should seek to negotiate with China and solve the differences between the two sides to achieve permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait, Ma said.

Ma's comments contrasted with remarks he made on Saturday, as well as with the comments of other KMT officials on Sunday, when he agreed with a student at Cambridge University, who asked whether China must remove its missiles before the Taiwanese people could countenance negotiations.

"No one likes to live under the threat of guns, knives or warheads of missiles," Ma also told the network ETTV on Saturday.

KMT caucus whip Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) on Sunday added that Beijing has no chance of forcing Taiwan to negotiate under the threat of its missiles.

Yesterday, DPP caucus whip Chen Chin-jun (陳景峻) accused Ma, who is viewed as a shoo-in to win the KMT nomination in the 2008 presidential election, of irresponsibly making remarks aimed only at gaining support for his presidential bid.

Saying that cross-strait relations are not built upon slogans or one-sided wishful thinking, Chen asked Ma to shed light on remarks he made last month to Newsweek calling for "eventual unification."

Chen accused Ma of playing a part in a "two pronged" plot to connive with Beijing in order to suppress Taiwan in the international community, and questioned why Ma did not speak for Taiwan when Beijing enacted the "Anti-Secession" Law targeting Taiwan in March last year.

In his remarks yesterday, Ma also recommended that Taiwan seek to break the political impasse through what he claimed were "peace agreements" reached between former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing last spring, including the establishment of a military trust mechanism.

Taking negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War as an example, Ma said neither side refrained from engaging in talks with the other just because the opposite side had acquired new weapons.

"In other words, both sides of the Taiwan Strait should seek common points between them to help defuse tension rather than trading excuses," he said.

According to Ma, who is on a five-nation European tour in his capacity as Taipei mayor, Lien's journey to China last spring opened a door for Taiwan.

Therefore, he said, the government should follow up by grasping the opportunity to start negotiating with the Beijing leadership for the benefit of the people on both sides of the Strait.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) also weighed in with his view, voicing support yesterday for "missile talks" with China.

Wang said that he agrees with Ma's position that Taiwan should not hold talks with China if Beijing refuses to dismantle the missiles aimed at Taiwan.

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