Thu, Apr 28, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Chen `not inconsistent' on PRC trips

WAVERING?Staff at the President Office were all over themselves trying to convince the public that Chen did not do an about-face over Lien's China trip

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) stance on trips by opposition leaders to China is consistent and has not wavered as his critics claim, Presidential Office Secretary-General Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday.

"President Chen's attitude toward the opposition leaders' China trips has been consistent. It's just that he expresses different points at different times when he speaks on these issues -- sometimes more tactically while some other times more straightforward," Yu said during a media conference yesterday.

Reporters had asked Yu why Chen had attacked the trip to China by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kun (江丙坤) while giving KMT Chairman Lien Chan's (連戰) China trip his blessing.

Yu said that the government's position has also been clear and consistent in regard to next week's visit to China by People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).

Media reports have speculated that Washington has placed pressure on the Chen administration to reduce criticism of the trips.

In response to a question on the Presidential Office's communication with the US, Yu said Taiwan and the US had not raised their level or frequency of dialogue over the visits.

"According to my understanding, the president has not met with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Douglas Paal for talks on the visits," Yu said.

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成) also denied that the government had contradicted itself over the visits.

Comparing national policy to driving a car, Ma said, "The car might sometimes lean a little to the left or to the right, but it never leaves the road. It just makes adjustments according to the traffic lights -- which are the national interest and public opinion."

Ma said the law clearly prevented opposition leaders from signing any agreements or reaching any type of oral accord with the other side of the Taiwan Strait on issues relating to national sovereignty without the consent or authorization of the government.

Asked for comment on Tuesday's clashes between pan-green and pan-blue camp supporters at CKS International Airport, Yu said the Presidential Office supported the Cabinet in its handling of the matter.

"The Presidential Office supports the Cabinet's decisions in the aftermath of the incident," he said, referring to Premier Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) pledge on Tuesday to bring the troublemakers to justice.

"It is regrettable that such a thing happened," he said.

Stating that the violence was the result of long-time confrontation between the rival camps, Yu said, "this is the very reason that President Chen has been promoting reconciliation between the two camps to try to bring an end to their confrontation."

Ma said that the reconciliation process was a difficult one.

"It is impossible for political parties that have been in confrontation with each other for the past four years to all of a sudden [solve their differences] ... in four days," he said.

"It takes time, wisdom and patience to address the rivalry and restore mutual trust between the camps," he said.

"Only time can restore the mutual trust that has been lacking between the ruling and opposition parties in the past years. Only time can prove whether or not both sides are sincere," Ma added, suggesting that both sides sit down for talks to seek a resolution, and that "it does not help to put the blame on either side."

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