Tue, Nov 17, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Opposition voices absent from cross-strait forums

By J. Michael cole  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government made no effort to invite voices from the opposition to a recent series of forums on cross-strait diplomacy, a former Taiwanese government official said yesterday.

Commenting on the sidelines of a forum on a cross-strait peace agreement at National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations (IIR), Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), former Mainland Affairs Council chairman, said agencies under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration had failed to invite academics from the pan-green camp or former government officials to the forums, at which former Chinese Communist Party officials and Chinese academics were invited to speak.

“They had to invite me [this morning] because I’m a fellow here at the IIR,” Wu, the sole pan-green voice at the forum, told the Taipei Times, adding that the situation had been similar at a pair of forums held over the weekend to mark the 60th anniversary of cross-strait relations.

“[Chinese President] Hu Jintao’s [胡錦濤] confidant Zheng Bijian [鄭必堅] can come to Taipei and claim that the Taiwanese independence movement is doomed and some retired People’s Liberation Army general can threaten us the next day, but academics from the opposition are not invited,” Wu said.

When the Democratic Progressive Party was in power, we always made sure to invite those from the other camp to such events, he said.

This one-sided debate is hardly conducive to the process that is required to build consensus on cross-strait matters, Wu said, adding that pro-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) academics had a tendency to mirror Ma’s “polite” approach to China, which involves no criticism of Beijing’s human rights record.

“Topics such as a peace agreement are very important and this is the first time that both sides discuss them openly,” Wu said.

Unfortunately, with opposition voices absent there is no plurality of voices and the Ma administration can give the impression that its policies are widely supported, he said.

Wu also said that the American Institute in Taiwan had not been informed about the forums, adding that this was reminiscent of the US government being kept in the dark during negotiations on Taiwan’s participation at the World Health Assembly earlier this year.

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