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Sat, Mar 17, 2001 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan independence activists seen as mixed blessing for DPP, president

PRO-INDEPENDENCE The World Taiwanese Congress this weekend will make an effort to reassert its role as a major force in domestic politics

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Refusing to take the back seat in shaping Taiwan's destiny, hund-reds of overseas independence activists gathered in Taipei yesterday for the World Taiwanese Congress (WTC) which is taking place over the weekend.

Their arrival is seen as a mixed blessing by the ruling DPP -- once their staunch ally -- with officials who have a big stake in the December elections hesitant to show them warm hospitality.

"Let all who love Taiwan say yes to the [independence] cause," Lee Sheng-hsiung (李勝雄), leader of the Taiwan Independence Party, said at an evening news conference.

The blunt-speaking lawyer likened the Republic of China to the fable "The Emperor's New Clothes" -- saying that it is nonexistent.

The WTC, formed four months ago by more than 90 pro-independence groups worldwide, is to convene its first plenary meeting today and tomorrow in Taipei in part to celebrate the anniversary of President Chen Shui-bian's electoral win.

Some 400 overseas Taiwanese from 17 countries, including Tokyo-based National Policy Advisor Alice King (金美齡 ), will take part in a series of activities culminating in a massive parade tomorrow afternoon.

Chen, walking a tightrope to pacify foes at home and across the Strait, is expected to avoid controversial language on the sovereignty issue when addressing the WTC forum this morning.

Chang Lipang (張理邦), 55, a resident of Toronto, Canada, expressed the hope that the presence of so many overseas activists would provide some cheer to Chen as well as curb what he sees as Chen's increasing drift away from the independence crusade.

DPP lawmaker Wang To (王拓) was sceptical, however. He said he admired the fortitude demonstrated by the overseas Taiwanese in pursuit of Taiwan sovereignty but warned that their appeal could backfire and harm the Chen administration.

Platform of the World Taiwanese Congress

* Forge solidarity among all Taiwanese worldwide and promote Taiwanese identity.

* Safeguard Taiwan's sovereignty and security.

*Promote civil diplomacy to boost Taiwan's international profile.

* Help Taiwan to regain membership in the UN and other international bodies.

He said that Chen had tried to remain neutral on the issue in the hope of preserving stability, without which the government could not translate its mandate into the ability to deliver its platform.

"The DPP cannot afford to provoke the opposition, whose lawmakers have repeatedly thwarted its policy goals," Wang said.

Wang is seeking another term in the year-end legislative elections.

Echoing Wang's comments, his colleague Shen Fu-hsiung (沈富雄), who lived in the US for two decades, said overseas Taiwanese tend to be less pragmatic when it comes to approaching the sovereignty issue.

He said he recognized that the majority of the electorate prefers to maintain the status quo. A three-term legislator, Shen has made clear he too is seeking re-election later this year.

Hsu Shih-mo (許世謨), chairman of WTC's US chapter, rejected charges that the overseas activists were being inflexible and said it is the opposition that has thrust the sovereignty row to the forefront by constantly grilling Cabinet officials over their nationality.

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