Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that as neither unification with China nor independence are likely in the near future, Taiwan needs a "new" paradigm -- maintaining the status quo.
In an article entitled "Taiwan's Pragmatic Path" published in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Ma fleshed out the KMT's stance on the unification-independence controversy and the long-stalled arms procurement bill.
"The KMT believes that neither unification nor independence is likely for Taiwan in the foreseeable future and that therefore the status quo should be maintained. The island's [sic] future should be determined by its people, rather than the government," he wrote.
Ma criticized President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent Lunar New Year's Day message, in which Chen advocated abolishing the unification guidelines and pushing for another round of constitutional amendments. Ma said that Taiwan should not "rock the boat in regional waters."
"We should instead seek to advance the security and stability of the area," he said. "Taiwan, while it seeks to defuse tensions across the Taiwan Strait, should also demonstrate its determination to protect itself by maintaining adequate defensive capabilities."
In regard to the arms procurement bill, Ma called on all parties to refrain from making politically charged accusations.
"We should deal with it by weighing up four factors -- cross-strait relations, Taiwan's defensive needs, its financial capability and public opinion," he said.
In conclusion, Ma said that as opportunity and challenges exist side by side, the voyage ahead for Taiwan would be smoother and swifter with more "democracy, openness and pragmatism."
Earlier yesterday, Ma said that the KMT would not pass the arms procurement budget in April, and that after his party's version of the bill is released sometime later this month or in March, the KMT would start negotiations with other parties in the pan-blue alliance before holding discussions with the Democratic Progressive Party.
Asked to comment on his article, Ma said it had been aimed at promoting KMT policies.
"The KMT has insisted on a middle-of-the-road cross-strait policy, and I am hoping that the policy can be understood more internationally," he said after presiding over a Taipei municipal meeting.
Ma is expected to continue promoting the KMT's stance on cross-strait affairs during a 13-day trip to five European countries. Ma left Taiwan late last night to start his trip, which will see him visit Italy, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland and Belgium. He is scheduled to deliver a lecture on cross-strait relations at the London School of Economics on Monday.
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