Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) yesterday predicted at the Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) national congress that the party, of which he is the spiritual leader, has a good chance of boosting its number of Legislative Yuan members to 50 by 2007. This would be expected, he said, under the current favorable international situation where China is preoccupied with its own growing domestic problems while the US continues its war on terrorism. \nLee, who founded the TSU in 2001, said that the party has promising prospects to expand its presence in the legislature as, to his mind, there wouldn't be any major cross-strait conflicts by 2007 because the Chinese leadership is preoccupied with internal power struggles ahead of the Communist Party's 17th National Congress. \nThe small party currently holds 12 legislative seats and is aiming to enlarge that number to 30 at the legislative elections at the end of the year. \nLee said it does not matter whether US President George W. Bush or his challenger John Kerry becomes the next US president, America will still continue with its anti-terrorism strategies, making Middle East problems a critical item on its foreign policy agenda and cross-strait relations a less urgent issue to grapple with. \nLee said that, in the run-up to 2007, China will be facing a series of domestic problems including the decrease of economic growth, labor problems and power struggles ahead of the Chinese Communist Party's 17th National Congress, which altogether will leave Beijing too preoccupied to take further hostile action against Taiwan. \n"China, like I used to put it, is just a barking dog that doesn't bite. From 1996 to 2000, it had constantly threatened to use force against Taiwan in an attempt to influence Taiwan's presidential elections. But they never succeeded. This year, we saw China almost unable to do anything for the same purpose. \n"Given the future development of China's domestic situation and international relations, it will be to Taiwan's advantage to exert its strategic leverage more freely," Lee said yesterday. \nLee also endorsed the announcement of the party's campaign platform which aims to create a new constitution for Taiwan through a national referendum. \nA long-term goal to be achieved, Lee said the TSU is capable of increasing its legislative seats to 50 by 2007, as a change in the political landscape has taken place since the March 20 presidential election. \n"A Taiwan-centered consciousness has begun to take root in Taiwanese society, while the party-state institution run by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime has been terminated. The opposition parties, which staged the post-election protests from March 20 to May 20, reflected their ignorance of this trend. They claimed to deal with China in peace while advocating unification, but, as a matter of fact, Taiwan has become an independent and sovereign country after March 20," Lee said. \nApart from pushing a campaign platform to create a new Taiwan constitution and change the official title of the country to Taiwan, Lee urged TSU members to propagandize the party's policies in education, public safety, the economy and national defense, and their relevance to Taiwan-centered values and interests. \nMeanwhile, the former president, a member of the Presbyterian church, advised the TSU to boost its ties with Taiwan's Aboriginals, including extending support to Aboriginal communities through church-based networks, as well as cultivating support from Mainlanders. \nTSU Chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文) yesterday said in order to achieve the goal of boosting public support for a Taiwanese national identity by 2008, the TSU and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will work together to enlarge this political force in Taiwan. \nThe TSU and DPP will cooperate and compete with each other in the year-end legislative elections in order to ultimately harvest a comprehensive victory, Huang said.
PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
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