Fri, Nov 12, 2004 - Page 3 News List

President's cross-strait plan attacked from both sides

CRITICISM Pan-blue caucuses questioned the president's sincerity and dismissed his gesture as an election gimmick, while the TSU insisted Chen's offer should be conditional

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Legislative caucuses from the pan-blue camp and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday expressed doubts about President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent proposal to establish a Committee for Cross-strait Peace and Development (兩岸和平發展委員會) to map out guidelines for stabilizing cross-strait relations.

The President made the proposal on Wednesday, and said he would not exclude the possibility of having a member of the pan-blue opposition lead the committee.

Although the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has backed the president's plan, pan-blue and Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucuses expressed reservations.

The People First Party (PFP) caucus yesterday questioned Chen's sincerity, saying that if Chen was serious about his proposal, he should demand that the DPP caucus support the PFP's proposed law for cross-strait peace advancement.

The law would allow the Legislative Yuan to establish an ad hoc committee to participate in negotiations with China.

"We welcome A-bian's statement," PFP caucus whip Liu Wen-hsiung (劉文雄) said. "But since his integrity is doubtful, no one can believe his words, and this is the major problem."

Liu pointed out that the president criticized Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) on Wednesday morning, but then invited opposition leaders to participate in the committee in the evening. Liu said this made people wonder what the President's real attitude was toward the opposition.

The KMT caucus said Chen's statement was just another campaign gimmick.

"It is customary for President Chen to make friendly gestures before the election, but he usually says one thing before the election, and does another after the election," KMT caucus whip Huang Teh-fu (黃德福) said. "We can only be cautious about Chen's words and continue to watch developments."

Huang said that on the one hand Chen has promoted "one country on each side of the Strait," independence and a new constitution. But on the other hand, the president has pushed for peaceful relations between the two sides and negotiations on direct flights.

He criticized Chen for only trying to get more votes for pan-green legislators with this approach.

In the meantime, the TSU caucus demanded that the committee be headed by a leader from the pan-blue opposition only if the pan-green camp wins a legislative majority in next month's elections.

"The TSU is not against the idea of having an opposition leader head the committee," TSU caucus whip Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said. "But there is a prerequisite ... the pan-green camp needs to have a majority of seats in the legislature."

"The development of cross-strait relations must be based on the principles of equality, reciprocity, security and dignity, especially concerning the establishment of a military buffer zone," Chen Chien-ming said.

Unsurprisingly, the DPP caucus said the president was making a friendly gesture and hoped that all parties will work together to build peace in cross-strait relations.

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