Mon, Feb 27, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan status quo dynamic, Peng says

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Senior Adviser to the President Peng Ming-min.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

At the heart of the controversy over President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) proposal to scrap the National Unification Council and unification guidelines are the pledges made by Chen in his first inaugural address. Many feel that in making the pledges, Chen created more problems for himself than he resolved.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) has criticized Chen for straitjacketing himself by making the pledge and expressed the hope that he will be able to escape from it.

She also claimed that the precondition did not exist when the pledges were made.

Chen promised that as long as Beijing had no intention of using military force against Taiwan, he would not declare independence, change the national title, enshrine the "state-to-state" model of cross-strait relations in the Constitution or hold a referendum on independence or unification.

Chen's final pledge was that abolishing the NUC and unification guidelines "would not be an issue."

Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), senior advisor to the president, told the Taipei Times in an exclusive interview on Friday that he himself was stunned when Chen made the pledges in 2000. They immediately drew a lot of criticism from party supporters, including himself.

"He has lost a lot of supporters because of that," Peng said.

Peng, however, said that he believes there are complex reasons for why Chen did so. He also believes that Chen was well aware that he would run the risk of losing support by making the pledge.

Chen was later criticized for agreeing to discuss the issue of "one China." Beijing, however, insisted on setting that as the precondition for the resumption of cross-strait talks.

As the US government has expressed the hope that Chen will reiterate the pledges, Peng said that he wonders why the US did not strongly condemn China's Anti-Secession Law, the enactment of which he sees as more serious than doing away with the unification council and guidelines.

Peng said that he cannot be certain whether Chen will reiterate the pledge, but that the US government must realize that the premise of the pledges no longer exists, as the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is dynamic, rather than static.

"US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said that China is the only country in the world that is not threatened by any other country," Peng said. "It makes me wonder why China keeps making double-digit increases in its military budget each year. The answer is simple and clear: they want to make themselves so strong that the US won't be able to interfere in whatever happens in the Taiwan Strait. When China is ready, the first thing they will do is change the status quo."

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