Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) stole the election in 2004 and silenced the public through a system of fear, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) told a Chinese-language newspaper in a recent interview.
In the interview published on Sunday by the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated Global Times, Lien, who lost the 2004 election to Chen by a razor-thin margin, said it was his “firm belief” that Chen was re-elected through fraud.
“How he manipulated the election remains unknown, even today,” Lien said, adding that after securing his position, Chen adopted a “provocative policy” on relations with China, such as proposals for constitutional amendments and referendums.
“The problem was that he dominated public opinion, giving a misleading impression that he represented everything in Taiwan,” Lien said. “But was that the fact? The public seemed to have been silenced for fear of his power.”
“The KMT, with its historical values and commitments, refused to accept that,” he said.
Asked by the Global Times reporter to comment on a recent visit to China by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) to participate in academic exchanges, Lien said: “I haven’t taken notice of the case and have no idea about their situation, either.”
“I can’t comment on the DPP’s decisions, but I always support broad non-governmental communications across the [Taiwan Strait],” he said. “More exchanges will promote mutual understanding, relationships and cooperation … Misunderstanding and barriers, no matter whether natural or artificial, do not help peace, cooperation or harmony at all.”
Turning to Lien’s visit to China in 2005, he said that Chen had made things difficult for him.
“I accepted the invitation of [Chinese President] Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), general secretary of the Communist Party, because I wanted our voice to be heard by everyone, the voice which represents the majority of [the] people [in Taiwan],” he said.
“Hu invited me in early March that year and I finally arrived on the mainland at the end of April. I asked Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), who was the vice president of the KMT [and present chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation], to arrange the trip, but Chen tried to make things difficult for him. Chen said I showed him no respect with my planned visit to the mainland,” Lien said.
Lien said he called Chen and clarified his purpose was to confirm the KMT’s commitment to the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “one China” principle.
“My secretary told his [Chen’s] secretary that we required bodyguards for our delegation, but we were besieged by about 2,000 armed men,” Lien said. “Actually, many difficult things happened.”
He did not elaborate.
Lien’s meetings with Hu gave rise to a five-point consensus for promoting peace and development across the Taiwan Strait.
“In the past few years, there’s been progress in many areas [of these points], but on some there has still been little progress, such as on the second one, working together to formally end the state of hostilities and reach peace,” he said. “This is where we next have to make more efforts.”
“The Chinese mainland and Taiwan wasted too much time in the past. We now need to take lessons to get to know each other better,” Lien said. “We have good interactions between mainlanders and Taiwanese because of more communication opportunities, which is the biggest invisible asset in cross-strait relations.”
Asked whether political dialogue or a military mutual trust mechanism were possible or should be promoted during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) second term, Lien said the relationship should not be interpreted through a “narrow-minded political lens.”
“Both sides should be flexible when promoting relations,” he said.
“The Taiwan question is not produced either by the mainland or Taiwan. It’s a question that history has left us and mirrors the historic sufferings of China in the last hundred years. It can’t be easily solved,” he said.
“We could handle the question in the way that building blocks are piled up: Do what we can do now and make preparations for the future as much as possible, until a meaningful structure is built,” he said.
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