Mon, May 19, 2008 - Page 3 News List

[ THE CHEN YEARS: 2000 ~ 2008 ] ANALYSIS: Chen leaves mixed legacy

MISSED CHANCES? Some analysts said his cross-strait policy made the international community clear on where Taiwan stands, but others said that it hurt economically

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cross-strait political engagements have sunk to a low not seen since 1999, when then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) declared cross-strait ties as “special state-to-state relations.”

Despite this, the government opened up limited tourism to Chinese visitors on a trial basis. It also considered the “2005 Macau model” — negotiations in Macau between Beijing and Taipei that lifted the ban on direct flights for the Lunar New Year — an achievement in cross-strait relations.

Taipei and Beijing implemented the first non-stop charter flights between the countries during the Lunar New Year Holiday in 2005, mostly to facilitate the return of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.

An increase in the scope of the flights was agreed to in June 2006 to include four types of cargo charter flights, but the negotiations on regular cargo and chartered passenger flights as well as the opening up of Taiwan to tourists directly from China later came to a standstill.

Wu Tung-yeh (吳東野), an associate research fellow at National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations, said a major cause of cross-strait deadlock was “rash and confrontational” approach Chen Shui-bian took when dealing with sovereignty-related issues.

Chen Shui-bian highlighted sensitive subjects to ingratiate himself with pro-independence voters, but that damaged trust between Taiwan and China and hurt relations with its allies, especially the US, Wu said.

Chairman of the Taiwan New Century Foundation Chen Lung-chu (陳隆志), on the other hand, praised the DPP government’s efforts in this regard, saying the party made it clear to the international community that Taiwanese consider Taiwan a sovereign and independent country.

“An important problem when considering Taiwan’s sovereignty is, as [an international law expert] James Crawford said, ‘Taiwan is not a state because it still has not unequivocally asserted its separation from China and is not recognized as a state distinct from China,” Chen Lung-chu said. “But when the DPP government applied for UN membership under the name Taiwan, we made history. It was a very big step forward for the country.”

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a researcher of European and US studies at Academia Sinica, said that Chen Shui-bian’s handling of sovereignty-related issues forced the US to face problems that were bound to crop up on the road to democratization.

The US response to Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence moves was to make its position on cross-strait issues more clear, Lin said.

The administration was also criticized for allegedly taking a cavalier attitude towards people’s livelihoods.

Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), secretary-general of the League of Taiwan Social Welfare, said: “The DPP flunked the test on how a party should realize its ideas when its becomes a ruling party.”

“When the DPP was in opposition, one of its dreams was to establish a welfare state based on social equality and justice, but over the past eight years it failed to narrow the gap between welfare for the public and welfare for teachers, civil servants and military personnel,” Wang said.

Wang said the DPP government made “farmers” a special group that received preferential treatment for its own political purpose.

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