Thu, Feb 16, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Sparks fly over KMT's controversial ad

INDEPENDENCE AN OPTION?The KMT scrambled to define its cross-strait position after Tuesday's ad, while the DPP congratulated it for moving to reflect mainstream views

By Mo Yan-chih and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS WITH CNA , DUBLIN

Whether or not there had been a major shift in the main opposition party's cross-strait policy was the question of the day, as politicians exchanged heated words over a newspaper ad yesterday.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) denied that it had changed its stance or that it had ever considered independence an option for Taiwan's future, saying the party's cross-strait stance was to maintain the "status quo."

Meanwhile, the DPP said yesterday that it welcomed what it saw as a change of heart by the KMT, and urged the party to support the abolishment of the National Unification Guidelines in keeping with its "new" political vision.

The KMT published a print ad titled "Taiwan's Pragmatic Path" on the cover of the Chinese-language Liberty Times, the Taipei Times sister newspaper, on Tuesday.

The ad stressed the importance of maintaining the "status quo" in the cross-strait relationship, listing the other choices for the country's future as unification or independence. The listing of "independence" as an option in the ad was interpreted by many to mean that the KMT now considered "independence" one of the possibilities for Taiwan's future.

"The KMT firmly believes that, in keeping with the spirit of democracy, there are many options for Taiwan's future, be it reunification, independence or the status quo. It is necessary that the choice be made by the people," the ad said.

After it came under fire for this perceived acceptance of independence as a possibility, the party yesterday tried to clarify its position.

The KMT said that Taiwan's future should be decided by the Taiwanese people. While independence might be one of the many choices for the country, that option does not tally with the KMT's policy and stance, party officials said.

"Neither reunification nor independence is likely for Taiwan in the foreseeable future, nor can either of those two options preserve the people's interests. The KMT firmly believes that Taiwan should maintain the status quo," KMT communication and culture committee deputy chairman Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) said yesterday at a press conference at party headquarters.

Pushing for independence, which the party said would damage the democratic status of Taiwan, was not policy, he said. The party would instead continue to promote Taiwan's democracy as well as peace in the Taiwan Strait, Huang said.

KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who arrived in Dublin early yesterday, defended the print ad, and said it was merely the result of "misreading or misinterpretation" to consider the KMT pro-independence because of an advertisement.

"Unification, independence and maintaining the status quo are all options for Taiwan's future. As citizens of a democratic country, the people of Taiwan are free to choose which option to pursue, so long as the choices are constitutional and do not violate any of the laws of the country," he said yesterday morning in Dublin.

While respecting the choices of the Taiwanese people, the KMT advocates maintaining the status quo at present, Ma added.

Meanwhile, the pan-green camp used the controversy to bolster its cross-strait stance.

"The way to check if Ma truly supports his argument that Taiwan's future should be determined by all the people of Taiwan lies in whether Ma will support the abolition of the National Unification Guidelines," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said in a news conference yesterday morning.

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