Facing a barrage of questions from legislators over whether the National Unification Council (NUC) still exists, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday gave a carefully-worded answer using President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) terminology that the body has "ceased to function."
The Executive Yuan has taken note of the president's announcement that the NUC and National Unification Guidelines would "cease to function" and "cease to apply," Su said.
Su kept repeating the remarks throughout the legislative question-and-answer session yesterday whenever legislators questioned him about the issue.
Some legislators remarked that he resembled a tape recorder playing the same tape all day long.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (
KMT Legislator Lee Ching-an (
"The government used the term `cease to function' to give the US the impression that the council still exists and is just not functional. But how can it be possible that the NUC still exists without any budget and personnel?" Lee asked.
While avoiding making a distinction between the phrase "cease to function" and "abolish" when answering legislators' questions yesterday, Su denied that the government was trying to deceive the US with its choice of words.
People First Party caucus whip Lee Hung-chun (李鴻均) said that the party would request a constitutional interpretation of Chen's orders concerning the NUC, which may violate the "one China" principle, and the spirit of the Constitution.
Rather than dwelling on different interpretations of the terminology, the key issue was whether the NUC still existed, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
"The correct English translation of zhongzhi [終止] is `to terminate.' But the government translated it as `cease to apply,' and so the US understood that the NUC has not been abolished," Ma said.
"But regardless of the terminology, what matters is for the president to make clear whether the NUC still exists or not," he said.
US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli had previously said that the US' understanding was that the council "has not been abolished. It's been frozen."
"I laughed when I saw the news. How could the US be fooled so easily?" Ma said.
While the DPP government maintains that Chen's move will not change the cross-strait status quo, Ma said that the status quo has indeed been changed.
"[The move] is the first step, and I am afraid that the president will move for a quick independence from now," he said.