Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 5 News List

MAC tries to put on a brave face

Although it had said a pan-green win would force Beijing to deal with the DPP, the council says the pan-blue win will make China more receptive to overtures


China will most likely see the election results as an indication that public opinion in Taiwan is not in favor of independence, and it will therefore be able to take a softer line on cross-strait relations, according to the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

"With the pan-blues' continued majority in the legislature, China will probably be less defensive when responding to cross-strait policies that Taiwan proposes," council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said yesterday after the final results came in.

"The results maintain the sta-tus quo and as such we will have to continue our work under the same circumstances as we did before," Chiu said.

"Only the parameters and the priority accorded to different policies will change in Beijing," Chiu said. "With a pan-blue win, China will probably gather that public opinion in Taiwan is not as great a concern [as if there had been a pan-green majority]. There will not be as much pressure in this area and so domestic policies will take precedence."

However, he warned that the fundamental cross-strait disagree-ments remain unchanged.

"No matter what the political situation in Taiwan, it is unlikely that China is going to back off the `one China' principle -- they will continue to uphold it," Chiu told the Taipei Times.

MAC previously said that a pan-green majority would be conducive to the resumption of negotiations, as it would kill any illusions Beijing had about the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) returning to power and force Bei-jing authorities to take the DPP's negotiation invitations more seriously. However, given yesterday's results, Chiu refrained from commenting on China's likely attitude towards cross-strait talks, saying it was out of his control.

"You'd have to ask China about this," he said. "I couldn't possibly answer for them."

As of press time yesterday, Beijing still hadn't commented on the results.

But Chinese experts yesterday gave a brief response to the elections. Li Jiaquan (李家泉), the former director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Taiwan Institute, remarked that a pan-blue majority would help to ease cross-strait tensions, but that a breakthrough would be highly unlikely without Taiwan's acceptance of the `one China' principle.

While Li's response was not made in an official capacity, his comments may indicate the government line. After the March presidential elections, China's official response echoed earlier comments from its academics.

China's silence during this election campaign signifies a new strategy by Beijing in dealing with Taiwanese elections, said cross-strait analysts. In the past, Chinese authorities could be counted on for saber-rattling remarks or actions, such as Beijing's test-firing missiles just ahead of the 1996 presidential election. Just weeks before the 2000 presidential election, China issued a white paper detailing its willingness to resort to "drastic measures, including military force."

Beijing's message was further impressed upon voters the day before the elections when then premier Zhu Rongji (朱鎔基) warned Taiwanese not to vote on impulse.

In the 2001 legislative elections, Zhang Mingqing (張銘清), spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated about a month before the polls Beijing's pledge to take Taiwan by force if it moved towards independence. In each case, Beijing's warnings were counterproductive, offering pro-Taiwan candidates an apparent boost in the polls.

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