Taiwanese independence is not an option for the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday, almost a year after running an ad in a local newspaper saying that he recognized independence as an option for the people of Taiwan.
Although Ma has said that the KMT's policy has not changed -- that is, seeking to maintain the status quo -- confusion over Ma's inconsistent stance prompted some KMT grassroots members to ask questions during Ma's visit to Taichung yesterday on the party's policy toward China.
"The KMT will not advocate Taiwan's independence ? it will only bring disturbance and agitation to the country if we declare independence," Ma said in response to the questions, adding that the nation has to take into account US and Japanese concerns involving these issues.
Ma's lack of a clear discourse on cross-strait issues had given rise to confusion among some KMT members over party policy.
During an interview with Newsweek International in December 2005, Ma said that unification with China was the party's ultimate goal. The KMT then ran an advertisement last February in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) which said that Ma recognized that "independence is an option for the Taiwanese people."
That rhetoric caused widespread criticism from within the party at the time, including former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who complained that Ma had not consulted him before making the statement.
Ma later tried to clarify his statement by arguing that the KMT policy of maintaining the status quo had not changed and presenting "five dos" to highlight the KMT's approach to cross-strait relations.
The five dos are: To resume negotiations based on the so-called "1992 consensus;" to agree upon a peace accord; to facilitate economic exchanges with the aim of establishing a common market; to work with China to boost Taiwan's presence in international bodies; and to expand educational and cultural exchanges.
Arguing that the KMT would never seek independence, Ma said yesterday that the country's future should not be decided based solely on opinion polls.
The country's relations with the US, Japan and China and the conflict of interests with these countries should be considered as well, he said, reaffirming the KMT's policy of maintaining the status quo and the constitutional system.
Meanwhile, in response to local members voicing support for him running in the presidential election -- even if indicted over his alleged misuse of his mayoral special allowance -- Ma repeated yesterday that he would follow party regulations and would resign as party chairman if indicted, but refused to comment on whether he would then join the race as an independent candidate.
KMT Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said the party would not answer any questions based on hypothetical assumptions.
"Some party members have suggested that we should change the regulations so that Chairman Ma wouldn't need to quit. But Ma Ying-jeou would not be the person we know he is if he agreed to that," Su said.
The KMT's black gold exclusion clause stipulates that the party chairman should resign if indicted.
"The party has its own regulations and I will definitely follow the rules, as I have always done," Ma said.