Tue, Oct 14, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Lien says restraint is waning across the Taiwan Strait


Mutual self-restraint is the only way to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait until China and Taiwan can find a more effective political and legal framework to address their disputes, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chair-man Lien Chan (連戰) said in London on Sunday.

Addressing the opening session of a Cambridge University-sponsored seminar on regional security, Lien said that while the US has played an important role in maintaining peace and stability in East Asia over the past few decades, the self-restraint shown by the countries in the region should also be credited for the achievement.

For example, Lien said, the Taiwan Strait has remained largely peaceful over the past several decades because the two sides have exercised self-restraint. Against that backdrop, he said, China has been able to carry out market reforms and Taiwan has managed to enjoy sufficient economic prosperity to withstand two oil crises and an Asian financial fiasco, as well as to complete its democratization process.

However, the self-restraint has gradually weakened since China conducted a series of live-fire military exercises and test-fired missiles into the Taiwan Strait in the run-up to the island's first direct presidential election in 1996, Lien said.

More worrisome to him, Lien said, is that three adverse tendencies have emerged since the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took power in Taiwan in May 2000.

According to Lien, the three adverse developments are China's intensified military buildup, Taiwan's prolonged economic stagnation and what he called the DPP administration's failure to adopt a more prudent and moderate approach in dealing with cross-strait affairs.

Lien said if he wins the presidential election next year, his administration, while countering Beijing's military threat and political pressure, will avoid provoking the mainland in order to maintain regional peace and stability.

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