Sun, Apr 24, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Chen stresses China trips unofficial

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday described opposition party leaders' imminent trips to China as non-governmental visits, and said that in their role as the heads of opposition parties they cannot represent the country.

Chen made the remarks when giving a lecture at the Ketagelan School, a political academy founded by Chen in March 2003.

According to lecture attendees who responded to media queries after the lecture, the president said that opposition party leaders must not overstep their bounds nor make any promises with the other side of the Strait on issues unless they are consistent with national policies or agreements reached by the nation's governing and opposition parties.

The remarks came as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) prepare to visit China.

Lien is scheduled to leave for China on Tuesday and meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing Friday.

According to the KMT's itinerary, Lien will visit Xian, deliver a speech at Peking University and meet with Taiwanese businesspeople in Shanghai before returning to Taipei on May 3.

Soong has also accepted Hu's invitation to visit China. A mission led by PFP Secretary-General Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) was expected to leave for China yesterday to prepare for Soong's visit some time next month.

Chen and Lien will speak by telephone tomorrow afternoon regarding Lien's trip to China on Tuesday.

Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun on Thursday relayed the president's stance to the KMT, saying that the president would support Lien's China trip if it was premised on upholding the nation's interests and putting Taiwan and China on an equal footing.

Meanwhile, a day after she called on Lien and Soong to demand that Beijing fly the Republic of China's (ROC) national flag during their visits in China, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) yesterday expressed hope that either Lien or Soong would advance the "sacred task" of getting China to establish official diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

"Lien was once ambassador to El Salvador and is somebody who attaches importance to diplomatic affairs," Lu said, referring to Lien's government post as the nation's representative to El Salvador from 1975-1976. "If Lien is really determined to safeguard the ROC's national integrity, he should do it while in Beijing."

"The other side of the Strait is the only country in the whole world who wants to wipe out the ROC's existence," Lu added, "it would be a great deed if [Lien] would safeguard the ROC while setting foot on the other side of the Strait; better yet if he could further the ROC's diplomatic relations by turning a country that's against us into our diplomatic ally."

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