Fri, Feb 10, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Ma talks of `peace and prosperity' on arrival in Geneva

By Neil Lu and Flor Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in Switzerland on Wednesday warned that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to scrap the National Unification Council and the national unification guidelines may have "serious consequences."

Ma issued the warning while answering questions from reporters upon his arrival at Geneva airport from Turin, Italy, as he continued his five-nation European tour.

Taiwan's Representative to Geneva Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡), greeted Ma as he arrived at the airport.

Although Chen proposed the idea without mentioning how it would be put into practice, Ma said that he wanted to remind the president that such a plan could have grave consequences if it were carried out, as illustrated by Washington's reaction.

Peace and prosperity

Stating that the aim of the KMT's cross-strait policy is to achieve peace and prosperity for Taiwan, Ma stressed that he will advocate a "third path" for Taiwan -- maintaining the status quo while boosting bilateral exchanges and mutual understanding across the Strait.

Ma was expected to fly to London last night after his Italian visit.

Chen said in his Jan. 29 Lunar New Year speech that the time may be right to ponder dissolving the council and its guidelines as China had failed to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.

Chen's New Year remarks immediately drew a backlash from the US, which reiterated its opposition to any unilateral changes made by either Taiwan or China to the cross-strait status quo.

According to Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who met with Chen on Wednesday, the president again aired his views about scrapping the National Unification Council and national unification guidelines to counter Ma's "eventual unification" theory, which the president viewed as a violation of the Taiwanese people's right to decide their own future.

Focused

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said yesterday in Taipei that Ma had raised the unification theory in order to explain the "one China" spirit as stipulated in the ROC Constitution. What Ma is focused on, he said, is maintaining Taiwan's current status quo.

The "eventual unification" that Ma referred to must be based on preconditions of peace and equitable prosperity on both sides of the Strait and with the consent of Taiwan's people, Lai said, adding that what Ma talked about did not exceed the framework of the National Unification Council or its guidelines.

KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) accused the president of playing hardball by saying that he had unfairly interpreted Ma's remarks to the foreign media as a way of shifting the general public's attention from the poor performance of the government.

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