Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
He made the comments at a press conference at the end of two days in Washington, during which he gave a series of speeches to curious, standing-room-only audiences, and met a group of senior US officials anxious to talk to him about the turbulent events in Taiwan over the past year.
Drawing a comparison between his efforts to clean up the corruption-ridden KMT since he became chairman last year and the DPP, Ma said his efforts were "very unfortunate for other political parties, particularly the DPP, because they have already acquired an image of corruption, ineptness and incompetence in running the government. In terms of the image of both parties, we're way ahead of the DPP now," Ma said.
Ma clearly intended to use his trip to Washington to show that he could be counted on as a peacemaker in cross-strait relations and to diminish the US establishment's image of President Chen Shui-bian (
Ma's main message in all his public appearances was his so-called "Five Do's."
The "Five Do's" are a cross-strait platform he apparently intends to run on should he seek the presidency in 2008, and which he highlighted to gain a favorable hearing from Washington.
That platform would hope to restart the 1990's Hong Kong cross-strait talks on the basis of the so-called "1992 consensus," would seek a long-term peace treaty with Beijing to delay the party's eventual aim of unification with China, as well as seeking some sort of modus vivendi under which Beijing would help promote Taiwan's broader participation in international affairs.
At the same time, Ma sought to portray the gridlock in the pan-blue dominated Legislative Yuan over US arms sales as the fault of Chen and the DPP by repeatedly telling in lengthy detail his version of the fate of the US package approved by US President George W. Bush in April 2001.
Ma blamed Chen and the Ministry of National Defense for playing politics with the arms package over the past five years.
He added that the pan-blues were ready to approve a "reasonable" package this year, before Chen "formally put an end to" the NUC.
Despite repeated questioning from the press, Ma never explained what he meant by a reasonable arms package.
But he promised that a pan-blue arms bill recommendation would be forthcoming in the "near future."
Despite some feeling that Ma's courting of Beijing would come at the expense of sacrificing Taiwan's ties with the US, his message found favor with the US officials he met, according to authoritative reports.
Ma met a large number of senior US officials involved in China and Taiwan policymaking, which was "explicitly designed by the State Department as a signal to Chen that patience with him has expired," said the Washington-based publication, the Nelson Report.
Ma, at various times, met with Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill, National Security Council China Director Dennis Wilder and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Peter Rodman.
The officials pressed Ma to try to do what he could to end the bickering and gridlock between the DPP and the KMT. But his cross-strait proposals were seen as a "constructive contribution" to assuaging Washington's concerns, the Nelson Report said.
Ma said only that the administration "obviously appreciated our points."
What could have been a testy exchange at the Pentagon over the KMT's blocking of the arms package was toned down because, as a source told the Taipei Times, there was a "low expectation" of how cooperative the US officials thought Ma would be. Also, Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Lawless, an ardent supporter of Taiwan and strong critic of the arms sales gridlock, could not be present at the meeting.
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