Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians yesterday tried to poke holes in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) statement that it was she who initiated a breakthrough in cross-strait relations when she was the highest-ranking official in charge of China affairs.
During a visit the previous day to the Taiwan-controlled island county of Kinmen just off China’s southeastern coast, Tsai said that when she was Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) minister under the former DPP administration, she launched the “small three links” with China, enabling direct trade, postal and transport exchanges between Taiwan and China via the outlying island.
She also assured voters that if she were elected president next month, relations between Taiwan and China would “continue to progress” and “will not stagnate or regress,” rebutting warnings by KMT legislators.
KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), a former foreign minister, said Tsai actually used the links to distract the public, while quashing similar links between China and Taiwan proper that would have further expanded cross-strait trade, postal and transport links.
Chiang said that Tsai even opposed charter flights across the strait during Lunar New Year holidays.
“If she continues to take the credit for facilitating cross-strait exchanges, she will be exposing her true nature,” Chiang said.
He said it was the KMT that, starting from 2002, worked hard to amend the law governing cross-strait civilian relations to allow the introduction of charter flights, first for the Lunar New Year holiday and then for other national holidays.
“The direct links of today are not an expansion of the ‘small three links’ as claimed by the DPP. Rather, what we have today is the result of the efforts of the KMT caucus,” which later won the support of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Chiang said.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), campaigning in Changhua County as Ma’s running mate, said that even the “small three links” were the work of the KMT’s legislative caucus and that it was Chiang who played a major role in making charter flight services across the Strait possible.
Wu said that while Tsai was MAC minister, she did nothing to implement a government policy to attract Chinese tourists.
“On that count, she did not work hard enough and did not pay enough attention to the issue,” Wu said.
MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) also accused Tsai of “wrestling away the credit” for launching the “small three links,” saying that the DPP government was half-hearted in implementing the policy, which was forced upon it by the KMT, a majority party in the legislature at the time.
In response to the accusations, Tsai said that if the KMT government cares so much about who launched the “small three links” policy, it signifies that the links were a great achievement.
When the policy was implemented in January 2001, it became a big story among international news media outlets, Tsai said, because it showed that the DPP had broken through the KMT’s “three noes” ideology.
When the KMT was in power in the 1980s and 1990s, it upheld a policy of “no contact, no negotiation and no compromise” with China, she said.
“It was the DPP government that launched the ‘small three links’ policy, indicating its goodwill toward friendly exchanges with China,” Tsai said.
The DPP is open-minded toward cross-strait exchanges as long as national security can be ensured, she said, adding that normal exchanges between the two sides of the Strait are “bound to happen.”