Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 3 News List

KMT blasts Chen's pledge on transportation links

By Fiona Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the opposition KMT yesterday criticized President Chen Shui-bian's recent pledge to set up direct transportation links with China by the end of next year as an "empty check."

Chang Rong-kung (張榮恭), head of the KMT's mainland affairs department, said yesterday that Chen's remarks Wednesday were simply a reiteration of ones he had made in an interview with a Japanese journalist five days after his election in March, 2000.

Their repetition simply shows their emptiness, Chang said.

On Wednesday evening, Chen told a group of around 50 editors-in-chief of local media that he had a three-stage plan for opening direct links, which would result in direct transportation links by the end of next year, after the presidential election.

Following Chen's announcement, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday said that a government report on the implementation of direct links would be published in a few days.

MAC Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).was scheduled to meet with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) today to seek his help to get revisions to the statute governing cross-strait activities through the legislature as soon as possible.

Chang said that the KMT was more likely to be able to open cross-strait links than the DPP once its candidate, current chairman Lien Chan (連戰) won the 2004 election.

"Negotiations on direct transportation links could start right now rather than after the 2004 election if the DPP was serious about its intentions," KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said.

But DPP Legislator Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信) explained that Chen's plan was practical with regard to the cross-strait relations situation.

The president's pledge to complete bilateral negotiations for direct transportation next year reflected cross-strait realities and was consistent with the party's policy, he said.

DPP optimism about breaking the gridlock in bilateral negotiations after the election next year is based on the idea that for the last three years China, allegedly at the KMT's behest, has boycotted the Chen government on the assumption that it would not be reelected and subsequently Beijing could negotiate with the pro-"one China" KMT.

Chen's reelection would send a clear message to China about what the people of Taiwan wanted, and force Beijing to abandon its intransigent position.

Anxious to secure the election of the pro-China pan-blue camp ticket, China was unlikely to make any move in cross-strait relations before the election for fear of enhancing Chen's reelection chances, Chen Chung-hsin said.

Neither of the pan blue parties' chairmen were impressed with Chen's direct trasnsportation links proposal yesterday.

"My great concern is that whether this pledge was merely campaign language or a task that the president was ready to realize," said PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Lien said that the president had "made an improper statement since he unveiled a timetable beyond the expiration of his presidency."

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