Taiwan should enhance its communication with the US and work to prevent being blamed for the impasse in cross-strait relations, political analysts said yesterday, in the aftermath of recent remarks by President Chen Shui-bian (
In his Lunar New Year remarks, Chen said the time was ripe to consider scrapping the National Unification Council (NUC) and guidelines, seek UN membership under the name "Taiwan" and work toward a referendum on a new Constitution. Those comments caused an uproar in Washington, which warned Chen not to alter the "status quo" and reminded him of his inaugural pledges in 2000 and 2004, which include a promise that abolishing the council and guidelines would "not be an issue."
Chen also pledged in those speeches that during his term there would be no declaration of independence, no change of the national title, no inclusion of "state-to-state" model in the Constitution, and no referendum on independence or unification.
But the US' sharp reaction to Chen's latest remarks has in turn sparked domestic concerns that the US is interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs and harming its sovereignty.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Cho-Shui (
"[Chen] drew pressure from the US which humiliated our head of state, discouraged the supporters of Taiwan independence and damaged the country's sovereignty," he said, adding that the "National Unification Council and guidelines won't be abolished as the president wishes."
Lin said that the government has the executive authority to abolish the council and guidelines, and does not need legislative approval to do so, since their establishment was based on administrative orders.
"[But] now the government is unable to assert its executive power because of US pressure," he said.
An official involved in cross-strait relations who spoke on condition of anonymity was not as pessimistic as Lin, saying that the US reaction was not as severe as the media had reported, and that different branches of the US government had different responses.
"Different departments did have different concerns on cross-strait relations," he said.
The official said that although the US State Department did rebuke Chen over his remarks, other reactions from the US were more positive.
Chao Chien-min (
"This kind of cycle has happened repeatedly in the last five years. Every time the president says something to heighten cross-strait tensions, the US government says something to warn Taiwan not to do this and not to do that," Chao said.
"The more Taiwan is regarded as causing tensions, the more the US intervenes in Taiwan's internal affairs. Once Taiwan is blamed for causing the tensions, it gives China the opportunity to ask the US to say something harmful to Taiwan's national interests," he said.
Chao took as an example the US Department of State's concern over the implementation of cross-strait transportation and communication links, in a Jan. 30 press release.