Mon, Mar 10, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential election 2008: 12 days to go: Presidential hopefuls spar on critical issues

Transcribed by Mo Yan-chih and Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI ASSOCIATION OF PHOTOJOURNALISTS

Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九): Mr [Frank] Hsieh [謝長廷], your political experience is similar to that of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and people think you are Chen Shui-bian and that you represent the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Independence advocates have said they would accept all of Chen's policies as long as he was elected president. However, Chen failed to carry out his "new middle way" because of pressure from deep-green supporters. You have tried to distance yourself from President Chen, but many suspect that you are a two-man show. How will you address the pressure from deep-green members and successfully distance yourself from Chen if you are elected?

Frank Hsieh: I have made my stance and policies very clear since the DPP's primary, such as "a constitutional one China" and "reconciliation and coexistence." I do have some similarities with President Chen. We both defend Taiwan's national identity and I think President Chen has made a great contribution to the nation with his persistence in defending our national identity over the years.

I am, however, different from the president in many respects. President Chen forgot the fact that the DPP was a minority party in the legislature and his administration has alienated itself from the public.

President Chen made government reshuffles too frequently during his terms. On the other hand, he proposed to expand the scope of overseas investment, a policy that is actually similar to Mr Ma's platform. Chen was flexible, but I think Mr Ma is more capricious when it comes to policy shifting. However, we [the DPP] do need to conduct self-examination.

I've never changed my stances and I continue to advocate the policies I proposed in the past, including solidarity as a whole, coexistence between communities and prioritizing Taiwan, culture and minority groups.

The Chen era will end after he steps down, but the conflict between "pro-Chen" and "anti-Chen" groups will continue if Mr Ma becomes president. That's why I should become the new president.

Hsieh: China has never acknowledged the so-called "`one China,' with each side having its own interpretation" concept. In fact, the Chinese Central Committee's Taiwan Affairs Office openly expressed its opposition to the idea on Aug. 4, 1999. I would like to ask Mr Ma to give an example of the endorsement of this principle by any high-ranking official or government agency in China. This is a question about facts because China condemned Taiwan for distorting the "`one China,' with each side having its own interpretation" principle.

Ma: The DPP can oppose the content of the 1992 consensus, but it cannot deny its existence. I supervised the case in 1992 as former vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC). Our negotiations with China in Hong Kong did encounter some difficulties, but they did accept the "one China" principle after the negotiations. It can be found in documents, but the DPP has refused to acknowledge that fact.

President Chen expressed his willingness to accept the "1992 consensus" during a June 27, 2000, visit by a group from the US, but former MAC chairman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) denied the matter in a press conference less than 24 hours later.

The DPP knew about the existence of the 1992 consensus, but refused to touch on the issue of "one China." The Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] was not afraid to discuss the issue because we know that "one China" meant "the Republic of China." Mr Hsieh, you would have to say that "one China" means the Republic of China if you are elected president. What are you afraid of regarding the issue of "one China"? Why do you feel ashamed? China expressed its willingness to seek coexistence with Taiwan while accepting each side's differences and to negotiate on equal terms in 2005.

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