Fri, Feb 25, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Pledges a betrayal for some, boring for others

DIFFERENT TAKES Supporters of Taiwan's sovereignty were disappointed by the Soong-Chen joint declaration. But others discerned only a rehash of past statements

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, left, shakes hands with PFP chairman James Soong, right, before a calligraphic work bearing the characters ''sincerity,'' which was presented to Soong by Chen prior to commencing talks at the Taipei Guest House yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The four noes pledges that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) reiterated yesterday in his meeting with People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) could be regarded as a soft reaction to Beijing's anti-secession law and a gesture of appreciation to the US-Japan joint pact -- even though it enraged many pro-independence advocates, political analysts said yesterday.

According to Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), an assistant researcher of the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at Academia Sinica, Chen chose "peace" rather than "sovereignty" as the theme of his meeting with Soong yesterday, which did help create an agreeable atmosphere for the two leaders' meeting.

"It might be a new trend that `peace' will be a demand that transcends the call for sovereignty in Taiwan in the near future," Hsu said.

As Beijing's proposed anti-secession law is pending and is to be unveiled in March, Hsu pointed out that the outcome of the Chen-Soong meeting could be observed in that context. He doubted that Chen's repetition of his four noes pledge made in his inauguration ceremony in 2000 was made as a condition linked to the recent US-Japan pact.

"My take is that Chen took advantage of the meeting to show his appreciation to the US for including the Taiwan Strait in the security pact with Japan and once again stressed that he won't be the one who escalates tensions in the Strait," Hsu said. "It seems that Chen decided to make a `soft' move to deal with Beijing's anti-secession law by seeking the US' assistance other than launching referendums or making a retaliatory law."

"According to the memorandum signed by Chen and Soong, I believe that the arms sales bill will soon be passed in the coming legislative session," Hsu added. "Now, the problem goes back to China again."

However, the reiteration of the four noes pledge is a double-edged sword, which will also likely cut the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) connection with pro-independence groups.

"The pan-green camp is going to be divided by this Chen-Soong meeting since Chen made it clear that he will not promote Taiwan's independence or rectifying the country's official name," Hsu said.

"However, Chen will not be the one who has to deal with this dissent because he won't join in campaign elections after he steps down from the presidency," Hsu said. "Those perspective candidates who plan to run for the 2008 presidency will have to deal with this knotty problem of Taiwan's orientation in sovereignty."

"Soong is the biggest winner of the meeting," Hsu added.

World United Formosans for Independence Chairman Ng Chiau-tong (黃昭堂) yesterday also said sarcastically that Soong won an overwhelming victory in this meeting and he was "very disappointed" by the ten points of consensus that were reached in the meeting, including Chen's "four noes" promises made in 2000 and Chen's vow to obey the Constitution of the Republic of China.

"I would like to congratulate Soong," Huang said sarcastically. "I think that President Chen has yielded to his insistence on the sovereignty of Taiwan in his meeting with Soong," Huang said. "And I believe that China must be pleased with the outcome of the Chen-Soong meeting."

Huang said he suspected that the US government might have intervened in Taiwan's current political situation. Otherwise Chen would not have to reiterate the four noes pledge at this moment -- particularly given that Chen won his re-election bid.

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