May 9, 2005
TAIWAN: LIEN FORGES 'NEW PATH FOR CROSS-STRAIT INTERACTION'
** Media agree KMT head Lien's trip to Beijing will lessen the Secession Law backlash.
** Taiwan's political rift seen as an opportunity for China.
** Outlets view Lien visit as a "challenge to the DPP's authority."
** Euro and Hong Kong papers see trip as "ushering in Beijing's new policy toward Taiwan."
Chinese have Machiavellian intentions-- A European writer theorized that the Chinese will use Lien's visit to "mitigate the negative message sent out...by the anti-secession law" in hopes of affecting "European attitudes towards the planned lifting of the EU's arms embargo." Hong Kong's independent Ming Pao Daily News noted that the visit "will undoubtedly put pressure on Taiwan's ruling DPP." Taiwan's pro-unification China Post agreed, saying the trip "will definitely serve to help bail Beijing out from its current diplomatic quagmire," while the pro-independence Taipei Times railed against Lien for helping to "ease international pressure on China."
Visit will raise 'status of the Kuomingtang'-- Hong Kong's independent media remarked that "Lien Chan's China visit will be conducive in raising the status and popularity of the Kuomintang" while the DPP "can only back-pedal and...bless" the trip. PRC outlets labeled the visit a clear "challenge to the DPP’s authority" and noted that "on cross-Strait relations, DPP authorities have lost their power to lead." The official China Daily said DDP leaders would like to follow suit but "they are afraid of...joining in the 'mainland fever' launched by the opposition parties."
China will use trip as a 'wedge'-- Taiwan's conservative United Daily News opined that Beijing will "pressure" the DPP by "using the power of Taiwan's opposition parties...to push the cross-Strait ties back to the one China framework." The Taipei Times declared that "as long as Taiwan’s political parties cannot agree on the basic principles of national sovereignty," the trip is "but the first step toward disaster.” The centrist, pro-status quo China Times countered that "competition between different political parties is inevitable" and that "proactivity is always better than passivity."
'New mentality' on both sides of the Strait-- Russia's official Rossiyskaya Gazeta concluded that Lien's visit signaled "Beijing's new policy toward Taiwan.” Hong Kong's independent Economic Times affirmed that the visit "shows...China has adopted" a more "enlightened, open, and pragmatic" foreign policy outlook. It added that the decision by President Chen and the DPP leadership to back the trip "is due to the change of mainstream opinion in Taiwan" in favor of those "who are against Taiwan's independence and support Lien Chan in making peace." Taiwan's China Post added that the "opinion shift has emboldened the KMT and PFP leaders to embrace Beijing without having to...lose voter support."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Patricio Asfura-Heim
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 56 reports from 7 political entities over 19 - 29 April, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Chen Shui-Bian Loses A Critical Round: About 500 Reporters Focus On Lien Chan”
Lu Nan and Lin Hai commented in official China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (4/29): “In the eyes of many of its senior leaders, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is facing an unprecedented political crisis. The visit of Lien, and the planned visit of Soong, to the Mainland is clearly a challenge to the DPP’s authority. On cross-Strait relations, DPP authorities have lost their power to lead. Taiwan analysts indicate the DPP government of Chen Suibian is no longer governing. The DPP has lost face and has no idea how to deal with it. During this year, the Mainland has frequently issued new measures and gradually grasped the lead in the Taiwan situation. It reflects China’s clear policy on cross-Strait relations: not accepting Taiwan independence activities and never giving up efforts to realize peaceful unification.”
"Why Does The U.S. Have A Positive Attitude Towards Lien Chan’s Visit To The Mainland?"
Sun Shengliang commented in official Xinhua News Agency-run international International Herald Leader (4/28): “The U.S. sees the cross-Strait situation very clearly. The biggest threat to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait is not a push toward reunification with the Mainland; rather, it is Taiwan pro-independence force. As such, currently the primary goal of the U.S. is to prevent Taiwan from taking radical measures such as referendums or tinkering with the constitution. The U.S.’s positive attitude has removed some of the Kuomintang’s uneasiness about the trip. The U.S. has a strong influence on Taiwan’s leaders. Lien’s 11-minute dialogue with Chen Shuibian was probably arranged by the invisible hands of the U.S.”
"U.S. Covertly Interferes In Cross-Strait Dialogue"
Xia Mu commented in Elite Reference, a newspaper affiliated with official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (4/27): "People notice that Chen Shuibian has made a sudden about-face regarding the visits of Lien Chan and James Soong to the Mainland. This above-face occurred shortly after the U.S. expressed support for the visits. The U.S. has interfered deeply in the cross-straight dialogue. American officials maintain close contacts with Kuomintang. Analysts note that U.S. Taiwan policy has not changed. The U.S. will spend all its efforts to prevent the realization of cross-straight unification; however, it does not fear cross-straight dialogue. On the contrary the Lien and Soong visits are supported by the majority of the Taiwanese people, and could derail Taiwan independence forces. The U.S. hopes that cross-straight relations are sticky - but too sticky. Recently the U.S. has strenuously promoted dialogue between China and Taiwan because they felt that things have become too dangerous.”
"Lien's Visit Will Benefit Cross-Straits Relations"
The official English-language China Daily stated (4/27): “Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) party Chairman Lien Chan arrived in Nanjing yesterday on the first leg of his landmark visit to the mainland. During the eight-day trip, Lien and his delegation of more than 60 members will also visit Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai. The KMT leader's trip comes just weeks after the party sent its first official delegation, headed by Vice-Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, to the mainland. Compared with Chiang's "ice-breaking" trip, Lien's visit will be of greater significance to history. Lien is the first KMT chairman to visit the mainland since 1949. When Lien holds talks with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in Beijing on Friday, it will be the first face-to-face meeting between top KMT and CPC leaders in 60 years. Lien defined his mainland trip as a "journey of peace" and said there will be no limits on what subjects he will discuss with Hu. It is hoped that the candid exchange of views between the two top party leaders will help enhance mutual understanding and trust. In line with the spirit of seeking common ground and shelving differences, the two parties are sure to find shared interests in promoting cross-Straits peace. Given the current political stalemate in cross-Straits relations, such inter-party consultation between the CPC and the KMT is expected to open a new path for cross-Straits interaction, and lay the groundwork for closer bilateral ties. It conforms to the common aspiration of people across the Straits for peace, stability and development. At a critical juncture in cross-Straits ties, both sides of the Straits should come up with the political wisdom to strive for a win-win situation. In this sense, Lien's visit will play an exemplary role for other Taiwanese parties.”
"DPP's Actions Will Not Dampen 'Mainland Fever'”
Li Jiaquan commented in the official English-language China Daily (4/25): “Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) Party Chairman Lien Chan is to visit the mainland tomorrow following his deputy Chiang Pin-kung's mainland trip between March 28 and April 1. It's no surprise that the Taiwan authorities have begun to attach various kinds of labels to the KMT ahead of Lien's visit. There has been a flurry of "mainland fever" in Taiwan during the past weeks. While cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges have been making fast progress, some politicians and party leaders have also been involved in this "mainland fever. Following Chiang Pin-kung's mainland trip, both Lien and PFP Chairman James Soong are to visit the mainland, and more leading politicians on the island have showed their willingness to do so. Against such a background, even some DPP leaders have expressed a desire to visit the mainland. But they failed to take action for the following reasons. First, they are afraid of hurting the dignity of the ruling party by joining in the "mainland fever" launched by the opposition parties. Second, they are still bound by the DPP's pro-independence party platform. Third, they fear their visit to the mainland may ruin their political future. That's why the DPP has such a "sour grapes" feeling and tries hard to criticize and attach labels to the opposition parties for their mainland visits. In fact, the labels which the DPP has attempted to put on the opposition parties are old ones. They include the phrases "selling out Taiwan," Taiwanese treason" and "pro-Communists." Currently the majority of Taiwanese people and the opposition parties favour closer cross-Straits relations. They no longer fear being criticized for putting on a red hat - slang for calling someone a Communist - nor do they worry about the DPP's legal action. That's because what the DPP has done violates the interests of the broad mass of Taiwanese people, who do not want to sit idle any more and are becoming a great force in resisting the DPP policy of provoking cross-Straits confrontation and hostility.”
"Lien's Historic Visit Has Major Implications"
The official English-language China Daily maintained (4/21): “People across the Taiwan Straits will keep a close eye on the upcoming mainland visit by Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan. Although we do not yet know what topics will be on the agenda and what achievements will be made, such a face-to-face meeting and direct view-exchanging between the two top party leaders itself is of significance. The highest-level meeting will hopefully herald the establishment of regular communication between the two parties to enhance mutual understanding and trust across the Straits. Promoting consultation with Taiwan's opposition parties, such as the KMT and the People First Party (PFP), testifies to Beijing's maximum sincerity to do whatever it can to help Taiwan compatriots, to improve cross-Straits exchanges and to foster peace in the Straits. Equally, the KMT and the PFP have showed their determination to fulfill their "unshirkable duty" to do anything conducive to cross-Straits relations by planning their mainland visits despite pressure from the Taiwan authorities. PFP Chairman James Soong is also due to visit the mainland soon. Sadly, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has ignored growing calls from the Taiwanese public for better ties with the mainland. As the opposition parties are making great efforts to promote closer cross-Straits ties, the DPP administration has moved to set up hurdles to bilateral exchanges. While imposing more limits on cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges, it has also threatened the opposition parties with legal action for their mainland visits. The DPP, bound by its strong ideology and pro-independence stance, has apparently underestimated the wisdom of the Taiwanese people. It is a mission impossible for any party, including the DPP, to win the hearts of the people while hurting their fundamental interests.”
CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS): "Hu And Wen Have The Power To Make A Breakthrough"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (4/29): "Today will be the climax of the Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan's Beijing visit. He will meet with the Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao yesterday anticipated that he and Lien Chan would have a fruitful meeting. The historic meeting is not accidental. It shows that leaders of the fourth generation-Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, etc.-have adopted a new style in handling foreign affairs and that their style has matured. The leaders of the fourth generation adopt a positive and active attitude when facing issues. The measures they adopt are flexible and pragmatic. Hence, they are able to reach a breakthrough over issues such as unification with Taiwan, Japan's provocations, as well as U.S. containment of China."
"Kuomintang-Communist Party Historic Meeting"
Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News noted (4/29): " Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan will have a historic meeting with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Hu Jintao today. The meeting will grab the attention of the international community. Although the Kuomintang is the opposition party, it will have the opportunity to become the ruling party again. If parties on both sides of the strait can make use of Lien Chan's 'journey of peace' to set up a communication mechanism to foster understanding, this will have great implications for the future.... After having made the 'ten-point consensus' with Chen Shui-bian in February, can James Soong play the role of mediator between Chen and Beijing? The answer will be known soon when Soong makes his trip to Beijing.... If Lien Chan's ice-breaking trip and James Soong's bridge-building trip can break the deadlock between China and Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party(DPP)'s refusal to follow the trend of replacing confrontation with negotiation will only show that the DPP has ignored what is best for the Taiwanese people."
"Chan's China Visit Will Find The Key To Peace"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (4/27): "The significance of Lien Chan's visit is that it breaks the current stalemate and opens up a new channel for cross-strait exchange. At present, cross-strait relations have reached a stalemate. Chinese people at both sides of the strait and the international community are worried about the situation. The tense relations are caused by the misjudgment of the Chen Shui-bian government, which has overestimated the support for Taiwanese independence power and misinterpreted the degree of U.S. support. Chen Shui-bian believes that he can refuse to communicate with China while continuing to maximize economic interests. However, the mainstream opinion is to ease tense relations.... The realization of Lien Chan's 'journey of peace' shows that China has adopted a new mentality toward Taiwan. It is now more enlightened, open, and pragmatic.... Many people believe that the leader of Taiwan should stand higher and look further. Chen should grab hold of the results gained by Lien Chan's and James Soong's visits, and begin dialogue and exchanges with China."
"A Sweeter Carrot And Harder Stick"
Frank Ching remarked in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/27): "The U.S. has generally favored dialogue between the two sides and, so, declared visits by Taiwan politicians to the mainland as 'positive steps.' However, Randall Schriver, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, has said that for such visits to be 'productive for all parties, the leaders in Beijing will ultimately have to talk to the elected leaders in Taiwan and the government that is in power.'.... However, Beijing is realistic enough to know that the next presidential election is three years away and that there is no way of ensuring an opposition victory. So it will have to deal with the current government in Taipei if it wants progress in cross-strait relations.... So, while on one hand Beijing is threatening the possible use of force, on the other, it is holding out the possibility of goodies that it knows Taiwan wants badly. The visit by opposition politicians to Beijing, therefore, could well be a prelude to overtures to the DPP government. It is entirely possible that instead of greater estrangement, the Anti-Secession Law may lead to greater dialogue between the two sides of the strait. But, of course, much will depend on what Mr. Chen decides to do."
"Send Big Gifts To Taiwan"
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal observed (4/27): "The Chinese Communist Party should understand that the Kuomintang-Chinese Communist Party meeting is totally different from the meeting sixty years ago. The Kuomintang is no longer the ruling party in Taiwan and Taiwan is no longer a society with one-party rule. Thus, if China attempts to bypass Taiwan's democratic election to achieve unification, it will be very difficult. Many commentaries believe that the biggest commander behind the Taiwan situation is the U.S. If the Democratic Progressive Party relies merely on the backing of the U.S. without any support from its people to move on the road of Taiwan's independence, Taiwan-independence supporters will not be able to do anything. In other words, if the majority of the public opinion in Taiwan supports unification, can the U.S. stop it? If China wants to attract people in Taiwan to support pro-unification's Kuomintang and the People First Party, the Chinese Communist Party should make a series of goodwill offers including removing missiles pointing at Taiwan.... Secondly, it can allow Taiwan to join international organizations with conditions so as to expand Taiwan's 'international space for existence.'.... The two offers do not contradict the one-China principle and they are not major matters of principles. Giving the Kuomintang these two gifts may be better than giving them the 'head of the state' treatment."
"Fighting In Taiwan While Handshaking Across The Strait "
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (4/27): "It can be seen that Chen Shui-bian has turned from criticizing Lien Chan's Beijing visit to blessing Lien Chan's visit. The change of Ah Bian is due to the change of the mainstream opinions in Taiwan who are against Taiwan's independence and support Lien Chan in making peace. The remainders are those radicals who support Taiwan's independence. They know that they are no longer the mainstream opinion and they can hardly convince others. Therefore, they can only resort to using force to stop Lien Chan's visit. That was why violent clashes took place in Taipei's airport yesterday. These violent acts indicate that Taiwan-independence supporters are utterly discomfited and they have lost the support of the moderates. The violent clashes in Taiwan will facilitate Lien Chan's handshaking with China in his visit. A new setting for peaceful cross-strait relations will be created."
"Lien Chan Creates History"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News pronounced (4/27): "The Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan is making an historic step in visiting China for eight days by putting asides the grievances between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Community Party that have existed for over 60 years. Since the Kuomintang is the opposition party, it does not have the authority. Hence, Lien Chan cannot represent Taiwan to discuss governmental affairs with China. Nevertheless, Lien Chan chose to visit China at a sensitive time when China just passed the anti-secession law and when the Taiwan public was suspicious of and dissatisfied with China. The U.S. government has to support both sides across the strait to increase contacts. Also, the Democratic Progressive Party government led by Chen Shui-bian can only back-pedal and change its opposition stance to bless Lien Chan's visit. Lien Chan's historic China visit has prompted the Taiwanese people's aspirations for 'no independence and no forces.' They wish to improve the tense cross-strait relations. It can be said that Lien Chan has gained some achievements even before he landed in China."
"It Is Not Too Late For Cross-Strait Reconciliation"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News editorialized (4/27): "We have high expectations from Lien Chan's visit. We hope that Lien Chan and the Kuomintang can 'reconcile' with the Chinese Community Party after the meeting. We also hope that they can go beyond parties' interests and overcome old scores of parties' history to turn a new page in Chinese history, to create a good atmosphere for cross-strait reconciliation, and to lay down a good foundation for long-term peace and cooperation.... We hope that Beijing leaders can base on the foundation of seeking common ground while reserving differences to do more actual jobs on social and economic levels.... We also hope that the ruling party and the opposition parties will recognize the trend of history and take the interests of the 2,300 Taiwanese people into consideration. They should no longer instigate pro- or anti-independence sentiment. The Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party can drop off their enmity for several decades to shake hand and talk. Why can't the Democratic Progressive Party put down the Taiwan-independence burden to seek a win-win situation with China?"
"Exchanges Cannot Be Stopped"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po editorialized (4/27): "Just when the Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan started his 'cross-strait journey of peace' yesterday, some Taiwan-independence supporters tried to stir up trouble in the Taiwan airport and they clashed with the pan-blue supporters. This is the evil consequence of Taiwanese politicians' continuous efforts in intensifying groups' differences. This also indicates the radical way of Taiwan-independence supporters in objecting Lien Chan's China visit. However, cross-strait exchanges will not be stopped due to fierce objections by some people. After the Lien Chan-led Kuomintang makes its historic step, it is believed that cross-strait relations will be driven forward."
"A Break With The Past That May Shape The Future"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post declared (4/26): "The visit provides a rare opportunity for face-to-face talks, albeit on a party-to-party basis rather than between the two governments. The highlight will come on Friday, when Mr. Lien is expected to meet President Hu Jintao. This opportunity to exchange views clearly has the potential to ease tensions. It might even help forge a path for reconciliation.... These developments arise partly from the central government's desire to calm international concerns about the Anti-Secession Law by being seen to favor reconciliation. But they also reflect a desire for peace, stability and economic growth on both sides of the strait. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian appeared to recognize this when he changed his stance on the trip at the weekend. He accepted that the visit by his arch political rival would at least enable Taiwan to test the water for reconciliation. The U-turn is also likely to be the result of pressure from the U.S., which views the visit as an opportunity to calm the cross-strait waters.... If cross-strait dialogue is to succeed, it must eventually be between the two governments. But the KMT's visit could help pave the way. The trip's place in history is already assured. That is because of the break it makes with the past. But with goodwill from all sides, the visit could help build a spirit of reconciliation which would also bode well for the future."
Mass-circulation Chinese-language Apple Daily News opined (4/26): "The Kuomintang Chairman Mr. Lien Chen will set off for China today. On Friday he will meet with the Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General and Chinese President Mr. Hu Jiatao. In early May, another major opposition party leader in Taiwan, the People First Party Chairman Mr. James Soong, will visit China and meet with Mr. Hu. Of course, we do not think that the visits of Mr. Lien and Mr. Soong will be able to change the cross-strait situation or to achieve links across the strait immediately. However, face-to-face negotiations and direct communications between major political figures across the strait are very constructive and beneficial. Only by this can both sides across the strait bridge their differences and untie the knots."
"Lien Chan Is Happy While Ah Bian Is Green With Envy"
Independent Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily News (4/26): "From a personal angle, Lien Chan underwent party division and lost the status as the ruling party. Thus, Lien Chan visits China before retirement to restart high-level contacts between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist party will help him gain a better evaluation in history. From the angle of the party, Lien Chan's China visit will be conducive in raising the status and popularity of the Kuomintang. The situation of allowing Chen Shui-bian to lead will be changed. Last month, the vice-chairman of the Kuomintang, Chiang Pin-kun, visited China and reached various agreements, but Chen Shui-bian condemned him. The public opinion, on the contrary, was on the side of the Kuomintang. Thus, Chen's had to take a softer stance. This time, Chen wishes Lien Chan well with his trip because the Kuomintang has again won the public opinion.... Since Chen Shui-bian came to power, he has been so eager in promoting Taiwan's independence. He has made splitting the country an immediate crisis. In return, Beijing has stepped up its pace for unification. This is the background that brings about only the third meeting between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party since 1949."
"A Small Step For Lien Chan And A Big Step For Cross-Strait Relations"
Center-left Chinese-language Hong Kong Daily News noted (4/26): "Some people anticipate that Lien Chan will not come back from his visit empty-handed. Even though some Taiwan independence forces claimed that they would stop Lien Chan from boarding the flight, Lien Chan's China visit will help raise his popularity in Taiwan as well as in the international community. The Chen Shui-bian government has already given Lien Chan its 'blessing.' And Chen asked Lien to exchange ideas after Lien returned from his trip. It is believed that Lien Chan will not sign any agreement with China during his visit. Although Lien Chen has only made a small step, the visit will be a big step for cross-strait relations."
"New Way For Cross-Strait Relations"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (4/26): "The Lien Chan-led Kuomintang will start its 'journey of peace' to China. The Kuomintang delegation will engage in positive negotiations in the aspects of cross-strait business and trade and cultural exchanges. These negotiations will create a huge pressure on the Chen Shui-bian government and will make the anti-separation opinions stronger in Taiwan. These are the positive and profound impacts of Lien Chan's China visit. Lien Chan's visit will not only provide new content for history of the relations between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party, but will also set a new path of constructive interaction in cross-strait relations."
"Beijing Encourages Relationship"
Center-left Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News contended (4/25): "The Chinese Kuomintang chairman, Lien Chan, will make a historic visit to China tomorrow and he will shake hands with Chinese Communist Party leaders. The mending of the two parties' relations after several decades of disputes has become hot news for both sides across the strait. The historic visit will also attract global attention because the future development of cross-strait relations may trigger a ripple effect. In the meantime, Taiwan's People First Party chairman James Soong is also arranging a visit to China. It reflects that Beijing is actively and positively adjusting its Taiwan policy. Hence, people should pay attention to the future of the cross-strait situation."
"Lee Teng-hui Exposes Defects"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao remarked (4/22): "Lee Teng-hui said Lien Chan's China visit had many 'wrongs.' First, 'the principle is wrong' because 'Taiwan's sovereignty is a life-or-death issue, thus it cannot be discussed.' Secondly, 'the status is wrong' because Lien Chan is just the chairman of the opposition party. Thirdly, 'the timing is wrong' because China has just issued the anti-secession law and 'one million' Taiwan people just took to the streets. Lien's visit will boost China's arrogance. Fourth, 'the format is wrong.' The Taiwan issue cannot be resolved through 'party to party talks.' The several 'wrongs' raised by Lee Teng-hui are totally groundless.... The betrayer is actually Lee Teng-hui himself. He die-heartedly seeks refuge with Japan. And he serves the U.S. and Japan. He suggested the 'state to state theory' and promotes 'Taiwan independence' to split from China. He is the one who toppled the Kuomintang as the ruling party.... Lee Teng-hui's remarks only exposed his weaknesses. It will make people feel that checking 'Taiwan independence' and seeking mutual consensus are necessary and pressing."
"'Taiwan Independence' Comes To A Dead End"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Hong Kong Commercial Daily held (4/22): "Most of the international community approves the upcoming Lien Chan and James Soong China visits. Taiwanese people have also responded positively. However, the visits will give the small group of 'Taiwan independence' supporters a hit to their hearts. Such a hit has greatly agitated the 'Taiwan independence' camp. They begin to feel that they have come to a dead end. That's why the stubborn spiritual leader of the 'Taiwan independence' elements, Lee Teng-hui, uttered sad calls yesterday.... In the past, Lee Teng-hui and his followers made use of the cross-strait political differences to stir up relationships and feelings of people at both sides across the strait. They played the game of 'Taiwan independence.' Following the increase of cross-strait exchanges among people, the room for the 'Taiwan independence' camp is getting smaller and smaller. The upcoming China visit by Lien Chan and James Soong will open the door for the exchanges of political parties across the strait. Cross-strait people will enter a new phase for exchanges."
"Lien Chan's First Visit In 56 Years: No Need To Have Sad Feelings"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao opined (4/21): "Mr. Lien Chan is going to make a historic step. It is a wise and correct move for Lien Chan, who understands the situation and follows the public feeling, to agree to hold discussions with the Communist Party to discuss matters of national importance. History will record Mr. Lien Chan's China visit and his shaking hands with Hu Jintao. Since Chen Shui-bian is muddleheaded and stubbornly biased, because of the intervention of foreign powers such as the U.S. and Japan, and because the Kuomintang is not the ruling party, the cross-strait situation will not have a significant breakthrough due to Lien Chan's visit. Even Lien Chan himself said to 'not make too big an issue of his visit.' However, unification is a trend that cannot be stopped. The Kuomintang led by Lien Chan demonstrates historic vision and courage. Thus, we should applaud the first step in 56 years."
"Lien And Soong's Visits To China Show A Glimpse Of Light"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News observed (4/19): "Kuomintang, Taiwan's largest opposition party, Party Chairman Lien Chen will visit China soon. In the meantime, Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Hu Jintao yesterday invited People First Party Chairman James Soong to visit China. Soong happily accepted the invitation.... Lien Chen's and James Soong's visits to China will undoubtedly put pressure on Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party because these visits by the leaders of the two opposition parties clearly tell the Taiwanese people and the international community that the anti-secession law stipulated by China is not responsible for tense cross-strait relations. In addition, regardless of whether China enacts the 'anti-secession law,' cross-strait relations should develop along the course of exchanges, not separation."
"Cross-Strait Relations Are Undergoing Changes"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Wen Wei Po editorialized (4/19): "In face of the upcoming China visits by the leaders of the Kuomintang and People First Party, the Democratic Progressive Party believes that James Soong's trip to China would have the effect of conveying the 10-point consensus he made with Chen Shui-bian to the Chinese government, which would then play down Lien Chen's visit. Although James Soong's China visit will be different from Lien Chen's visit because of Soong's meeting with Chen Shui-bian not long ago, there is one thing the two visits have in common, they both recognize the 'one China' principle and hope to promote cross-strait relations and stability.... Lien Chen and James Soong will take their historical steps soon. After their visits, cross-strait relations will enter a period of change. The majority of Taiwanese people have positive expectations for both visits. If the Democratic Progressive Party recognizes the '1992 consensus,' Taiwan can become a participant rather than an onlooker in the cross-strait exchange. Now the ball is in Taiwan's court."
TAIWAN: "Taiwan’s Strategic Predicament Under The Attack of China’s ‘Lavish Gifts’"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times said (4/29): "For Taiwan’s fundamentalists, they seem to believe that as long as they can stop KMT Chairman Lien Chan at the airport, Taiwan’s security will be protected, and as long as they can stop Taiwan’s firms from moving westbound to invest in China, the economic threats of mainland China will be eliminated. However, reality tells us that even though Taiwan enjoys a geographical advantage in terms of China’s economic development, it definitely has no strength to control China’s economic reforms. When investors all over the world flood into the Chinese market, Taiwan’s geographical advantage will gradually become insignificant. By the same token, Lien’s China trip can indeed help to push for the contact and dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. But … under the tremendous pressure of the United States and the world that anticipate a peaceful dialogue across the Taiwan Strait, the role of any men will gradually become irrelevant. In the face of [China’s] proposal to build a cross-Strait trade framework and support Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly, will Taiwan accept the offer? And under what conditions will it accept the offer? If next year Beijing invites Taiwan to sign a cross-Strait tariff and tax agreement, how will we respond? Suppose five years from now Beijing hopes Taiwan can join the International Monetary Fund, the ASEAN plus three, or even the United Nations in the name of a confederation, how will we handle it? When Beijing seeks to offer one lavish gift after another, Taiwan fundamentalists’ standard reply of ‘None of the above’ will seem less and less practical. Taiwan’s political figures must have broader and more profound strategic thinking. They need to see clearly the possible options and limitations for Taiwan in the big environment and start to plan for Taiwan’s political and economic prospect ‘ten years from now.’”
"The Key To Open The Door For Cross-Strait Dialogue Lies In The Hands Of Hu And Bian"
Journalist Wang Ming-yi noted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (4/29): “In fact, the roles that KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong can play should be the messenger of peace, communicator of cross-Strait trade exchanges and economic cooperation, and facilitator of authorized dialogue across the Taiwan Strait. But Lien and Soong are not the ‘special envoys’ representing the Chen Shui-bian administration after all. The key of whether Lien and Soong can open the door for cross-Strait peaceful dialogue still lies in Beijing’s policy-making and the response and attitude of the DPP government.”
"The Past Offers No Road In Taiwan Strait"
The pro-independence English-language Taiwan News commented (4/29): “Indeed, up to yesterday, Lien’s only truly useful comment was his expression of ‘hope that we can find a way out for the people of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.' Unfortunately, the KMT chairman is looking in the wrong direction, toward the past instead of the future. The only true ‘way out’ for the people of both Taiwan and PRC lies forward toward the acceptance and the fostering of the growing global consensus around the universal values of ‘democracy, freedom, human rights, peace and sustainability. Beijing leaders should realize that genuine improvement in cross-strait relations can come only by starting from the reality of the cross-strait division into the two states of the PRC and ROC and open a genuine dialogue with Taiwan's democratically elected government under President Chen and the DPP. But we doubt whether Lien will offer such advice to Hu today.”
"If Lien Chan Fails To Accomplish His Historical Achievement, He Will Become A Public Enemy Of The People On Both Sides Of The Taiwan Strait”
Pro-independence Liberty Times editorialized (4/28): "Lien’s mentioning about KMT founder Sun Yat-sen’s will of ‘peace, striving and saving China’ during his China trip was not only a result of confusion of time and place but also of values. Today, China and Taiwan are two separate countries. Regardless of the question whether China needs to be ‘saved,’ it really has nothing to do with the Taiwan people even if China needs to be saved. In particular, China is the real chief offender that has created the severe situation across the Taiwan Strait, and we should ‘save Taiwan’ rather than ‘save China.’ In other words, how to save Taiwan from being intimidated by China’s dictatorship; how to save Taiwan’s economy from being drained away by China; how to save Taiwan people’s democratic and free lives from being sabotaged by China; and how to save Taiwan’s independent sovereignty from being violated by China are the issues that need to be resolved as a top priority. Since Lien touted his China trip as a ‘journey of peace’ and claimed he was promoting the peaceful will of Sun Yat-sen, he should then justly and fearlessly protest to Chinese leader Hu Jintao about Taiwan people’s complaints, demanding that China destroy all the missiles that it deployed and aimed at Taiwan and abolish the Anti-Secession Law which authorized Beijing to use force against Taiwan. Only by doing that can Lien call his trip a real journey of peace and himself a true believer of Sun Yat-sen. If not, he is simply a political liar.”
"Tomorrow’s Lien-Hu Meeting: Not To Miss This Critical Opportunity Once In A Lifetime!"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News commented (4/28): “Those on both sides of the Taiwan Strait who have a mind to improve cross-Strait relations, must be watchful for the fragile part of KMT Chairman Lien Chan’s China trip despite its seemingly glorious appearance. The difficulty of this issue lies in the fact that Taiwan cannot possibly find a prospect for the island by neglecting mainland China, and China cannot resolve the Taiwan issue by adopting measures that would destroy both sides indiscriminately. Lien said he hopes he could find a prospect for people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. What he referred to was a prospect for both Taiwan and mainland China, or it cannot be called as a ‘common prospect for people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait. During his first two days’ trip, Lien seemed to have started a very cautious probe to Beijing. The Beijing authorities, on the other hand, have offered Lien a positive response and some leeway.... In an attempt to resolve the ‘severe impasse’ across the Taiwan Strait as referred to by Lien, Beijing should have greater tolerance toward Taiwan while Taiwan should learn to be more coherent. Only this way can both sides of the Taiwan Strait build a peaceful and stable framework for their interactive development. Lien’s probe may be implicit but his intention is very clear. Now it all depends on how Chinese President Hu Jintao will respond at his meeting with Lien tomorrow. Hu’s response will not be addressed to Lien alone, but it will also point out a common prospect for both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
"U.S. Role Remains In Cross-Strait Relations"
Chen Chung-chih said in centrist China Times (4/28): "The United States has constantly sent out signals since last year-end hoping that both sides could resume dialogue. In the face of the stalemated cross-Strait relations, Washington believes that the best way is to have both sides of the Taiwan Strait engage directly in a dialogue. Thus, we can say the United States is playing the role as an invisible but solid mediator that is proactively pushing both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume talks. But such a role played by the United States started to change early this year; namely, even though the ruling party of Taiwan strongly criticized the opposition leaders’ trips to China, the State Department still clearly indicated a supportive attitude, emphasizing that some Taiwan individuals’ recent trips to China are a positive step. In other words, the focus of Washington’s attention lies in how to make Beijing and Taipei maintain a channel for dialogue and how to adopt measures that are acceptable for both sides and are effective for alleviating tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Thus, once both sides of the Taiwan Strait resume dialogue, the United States will no longer stand on the front line and will return to its original role of the mediator behind the scene. Washington’s progressive hands-off attitude was evident in its response to former President Lee Teng-hui’s recent remarks. The United States clearly turned down a proposal by Lee that said ‘the appropriate venue for cross-Strait negotiations lies in the United States rather than Beijing.’ In addition, Washington stressed that the best way to resolve cross-Strait tensions is to have both sides resume dialogue directly and that the United States welcomes any steps that would help achieve such an objective. Moreover, Washington said that it does not rely on the United States to solve all these problems.... If our government mishandles the opposition leaders’ trip to China, it will not only miss an excellent opportunity to be able to take the initiative in improving cross-Strait ties but will also likely spoil Washington’s hard efforts in pushing for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue. Based on this, [we can say] the United States’ influence on both sides of the Taiwan Strait is increasing rather than diminishing. As a result, how can Taiwan not act carefully with regard to the U.S. role and cross-Strait relations?”
"The April 25 Telephone Conversation Between President Chen And Lien Chan: Lien And Hu Might As Well Give Chen Shui-bian A Hand?"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News editorialized (4/27): "What’s noteworthy is that during his telephone conversation with KMT Chairman Lien Chan April 25, President Chen took the initiative to mention ‘the 1992 consensus,’ and both men chatted about it on the phone. But the discussion about the 1992 consensus that was evident in the press release announced by the KMT failed to appear in the press release issued by the Presidential Office later.... It is said that Chen said on the phone that the Taiwan government does not deny ‘the contents of the talks in 1992,’ but it is a historical fact that ‘there was no 1992 consensus.' Chen’s remarks seemed to say he believes that the words ‘the 1992 consensus’ were created by some other people later and that there was no such term in 1992.... Such an approach of fickleness and paying excessive attention to wording has again put Chen in a dilemma. This is because Chen has once said ‘the 1992 consensus’ was ‘one country, two systems’; it was an attempt to ‘annihilate the Republic of China’ and it was ‘capitulationism'.... The chat about ‘the 1992 consensus’ during the April 25 telephone conversation [between Chen and Lien] indicate that Chen was trying to check out Beijing’s attitude via his conversation with Lien. Chen is of course too embarrassed to say that he acknowledges ‘the 1992 consensus’ now, but ‘the contents of the talks in 1992’ as called by Chen are definitely not the terminology that he once demonized. In other words, if both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree to term ‘the 1992 consensus’ as ‘the contents of the talks in 1992,’ chances are that Chen might accept and acknowledge the consensus. The reason why the Presidential Office deliberately deleted such a discussion in its press release was because it wanted to play down its fickleness and to leave some leeway for this major political probe.... If Chen’s remark that he ‘does not deny the contents of the talks in 1992’ is an approach to probe Beijing’s attitude, we hope that both Lien and Chinese President Hu Jintao would give Chen a hand by not being tied down by the words ‘the 1992 consensus.’ They might as well come up with a broader discourse on ‘the contents of the talks in 1992’ that is more applicable or acceptable for both sides.”
"Lien’s Peace Mission To PRC Filled With Big Challenges"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post noted (4/27): “Indeed, the mission Lien carries with him is extremely challenging. On the one hand, he must have the courage to firmly defend Taiwan’s political sovereignty and unequivocally reflect the opinion of the majority of its 23 million people, even though he is traveling in a private capacity and as the leader of his own party. At the same time, Lien has to use his wisdom and political prowess to get his Beijing hosts to listen to him carefully and to find common ground on a range of bitter disputes so as to create an atmosphere for reconciliation and, ultimately, for action by the governments of the two sides to reopen dialogue."
"Lien Chan Would Be Well Advised Not To Act As A Sinner That Harms Taiwan’s National Status And Dignity"
Pro-independence Liberty Times commented (4/26): "Peace across the Taiwan Strait is not only what the Taiwan people hope to see but also the expectation of international society. When KMT Chairman Lien Chan arrives in China, if he could promote justly and fearlessly Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity and demand that China lay down its butcher knife, it is certain that no one would reproach him for working together with the Chinese Communist Party in restraining Taiwan. But if Lien wants to surrender Taiwan’s sovereignty to China in exchange for the latter’s grant of peace, not only would the Taiwan people not tolerate it, but the international community would also oppose such a move that would sabotage the regional balance of power.... In short, even though Lien travels to China in a private capacity, he needs to act with perfect propriety, neither haughtily nor humbly, and he should try not to do anything that could harm Taiwan’s national dignity.”
"Things That A Ruler Must Do And Must Not Do"
Centrist, pro-status quo China Times said (4/26): "The challenge that this new wave of China fever has created for the ruling party is that it should learn how to face the issue, coordinate the diversified opinions inside the party, and come up with a viable policy direction like what a ruling party should do. The ruling party should not just invariably oppose and insult the opposition parties since it is the privilege of the opposition party to oppose and criticize the ruling party.... Competition between different political parties is inevitable, but national interests should always come first before the interests of any single political party. Long-term interests of a country should also be deemed more important than short-term loss and gain, and proactivity is always better than passivity. If our ruler and ruling party could uphold these principles, Taiwan’s politics would have a new look, and both our domestic policy and cross-Strait relations could be modified according to circumstances."
"Lien’s China Trip Opens A New Page For Cross-Strait Relations"
Hsiao Heng-chien and Tung Chih-sen observed in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (4/26): “The meeting between the KMT chairman and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary is, without doubt, historically significant. In terms of the interaction between two political parties, the CCP is a ruling party while the KMT is already an opposition party. Even though the two parties shared substantial resentment or grudges during the civil war period, it is already too difficult to discuss all these previous details now. Also, people should not look at the meeting as the talks between the KMT and the CCP because the KMT is already an opposition party; it no longer stands on an equal footing with the CCP in terms of the political power it possesses. The symbolic significance of the KMT-CCP meeting should thus be more important than other aspects of significance. But for Lien and the KMT, the significance of reconciliation between the KMT and CCP is not so important; what’s more important for the KMT is that it hopes to open a new road for the current cross-Strait relations through this reconciliatory move. As for where the road will lead to, the ball is still in the hand of the ruling authorities. The key still lies in the ruler as to whether he wants the cross-Strait relations to reap.”
"Moving Forward, Or Toward Disaster?"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times editorialized (4/26): “Although both Lien and Soong are acting without explicit government authorization, Chen has given his blessing. This will give people in this country and abroad the wrong idea that Lien and Soong represent government opinion. The president had only just taken part in the March 26 protests against China’s ‘Anti-Secession’ Law when he turned around and gave this blessing. He said he hoped they would pave a new path for cross-strait relations. But what about the arms procurement bill, which continues to languish in the legislature? If the people of Taiwan care so little about their own defense, who will believe us in the future if China steps up its military threats?.... Dialogue between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party may be significant in historical terms. However, as long as Taiwan’s political parties cannot agree on the basic principles of national sovereignty and policy toward China, then these two trips may turn out to be not a glorious beginning to better times, but the first step toward disaster.”
"Lien Begins Peace Journey"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post noted (4/26): "Lien’s eight-day-four-city trip, followed by that of another Taiwan opposition leader, James Soong of the People First Party next week, also for peace and reconciliation, will definitely serve to help bail Beijing out from its current diplomatic quagmire. …“Lien’s trip certainly will add pressure to the Chen administration to speed up rapprochement with the mainland, a ‘priority task’ it promised but failed to carry out after five years.”
"The Energy And Positive Foundation For Peace Across The Taiwan Strait"
Chu Yun-han commented in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (4/25): “Beginning this week, KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong will separately begin their first-ever trips to mainland China. The ice-breaking trips will not only offer Lien and Soong an opportunity to climb up a lofty political mountain range that no one has ever attempted in more than five decades of cross-Strait confrontations, but will also create a chance which may lead to a whole new page for cross-Strait relations.... These political elites no longer know how to make use of the tremendous transitional energy inherent in a possible political reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait or how to proactively convert such hidden energy into substantive politics and a positive economic foundation that will benefit Taiwan’s existence and development.... All the elements that have hindered and oppressed the release of the energy of a cross-Strait political reconciliation continue to exist, and it’s unlikely they will fade away in a short period of time.... The biggest obstruction will definitely come from the neo-cons inside the Bush administration, who believe that the United States must do all it can to bar the rising of China.... If both sides of the Taiwan Strait move toward comprehensive reconciliation, it will mean that China has finally lay down a heavy strategic burden. As a result, the strategic situation in East Asia will move toward a direction that is favorable for China’s peaceful rising, and Japan will hesitate all the more about the strategic option of whether it should join hands with the United States in containing China. In the end, such a development will lead to an overall decline of the United States’ leading role in East Asia. But the enormous transitional energy hidden in the reconciliation across the Taiwan Strait also gave some Taiwan political figures who have historical imagination an opportunity to seek from the Beijing leaders substantial political concessions and economic development benefits [for Taiwan]. In fact, given the condition that the power driving nationalistic movements inside Taiwan is declining and Taiwan’s economics is increasingly leaning toward mainland China, policy makers in the United States have begun to worry that Taiwan, following Seoul, will be the next chess on the strategic chessboard of East Asia whose position will likely sway.”
"Lien To Report To Bian, And Bian’s Crisis Of His Power Being Taken Away Will Be Removed"
Journalist Luo Hsiao-he said in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (4/24): “The China visits by KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong in succession have dealt a serious blow to the prestige of the ruling DPP government. But following the moves that Soong will visit China bringing his ten-point consensus with President Chen Shui-bian, and Lien is willing to report to Chen about his trip prior to his departure, the crisis that Chen’s power might be taken away has finally been eliminated. Chen, following the suit of the United States, is now happy to support Lien and in the meantime is trying to keep some room for the upcoming meeting between Lien and Chinese President Hu Jintao.... The whole situation changed subtly following Beijing’s announcement that it was extending an invitation to Soong. Beijing’s two-handed strategy has created a free-flowing and feasible approach for a potential Chen-Hu meeting in the future and has offered Chen an opportunity to ‘get involved’ in the heat of Lien’s and Soong’s China visits. No matter whether or not Beijing did it because it took into consideration Washington’s push for official talks across the Taiwan Strait, the move has effectively removed the crisis of Chen being marginalized.”
"Be Less Tolerant Of Lien And Soong"
The pro-independence English-language Taipei Times editorialized (4/24): “On Tuesday, Randall Schriver, the US deputy Assistant Secretary of State in charge of China and Taiwan issues told reporters that ‘the leaders in Beijing will ultimately have to talk to the elected leaders in Taiwan and the government that is in power. If Beijing is only willing to speak with opposition leaders such as Lien and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong, the already complicated cross-strait relationship will only become more complicated. So, although Schriver did not criticize Lien and Soong, it isn’t hard to detect some degree of skepticism. The KMT is obviously aware of this.... At the same time, the Presidential Office has indicated that it is treating the visits by Lien and Soong as purely private in nature and without any official status. From that standpoint, the Presidential Office has indicated support for Lien and Soong’s trips. The government’s change in posture obviously had much to do with the promises conveyed by Lien and Soong, either through the US or other channels, to not overstep their bounds. The attitude of the Taiwan and US governments can be interpreted as follows: If you must go, then so long as you do not do anything illegal, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. However, that attitude is way too tolerant of Lien and Soong.... Lien and Soong are also leaders of political parties.... Their trips have helped ease international pressure on China for its enactment of the ‘Anti-Secession’ Law and diverted the Taiwanese public’s attention. For that, they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt from anyone.”
"Lien Chan’s ‘Journey Of Peace’"
The conservative, pro-unification English-language China Post observed (4/23): "Although it is not yet certain what Lien Chan will bring home after the eight-day, four-city ‘tour of peace,’ one thing seems sure, however. Cross-strait tensions will ease as a result. Exchanges in the fields of culture, tourism, economy will improve. The long-awaited ‘san tong’ (direct trade, transport, and other links) will get greater momentum. Even political dialogue between Beijing and Taipei is no longer impossible.... What may leave the ‘pan green’ camp of separatists sitting resentfully on the sidelines is Washington’s open support for Lien Chan’s ice-breaking visit to China. A spokesman for the State Department said this week it is a ‘positive step’ for Taiwan’s individuals to visit China. The United States welcomes any move that will help reduce cross-strait tensions and enhance mutual understanding, the spokesman said. Will these steps lead to an eventual meeting between Chen Shui-bian and Hu Jintao? Nobody knows. But the United States would welcome such an eventuality. A Hu-Chen handshake? Is this too far-fetched? But in realpolitik, nothing is impossible.”
"One China Is Not The Major Issue, ‘Free Interpretation’ Of The One China By Both Sides Of The Taiwan Strait Is The Real Bottom Line"
Journalist Luo Ju-lan noted in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (4/22): "'Washington’s attitude is also like a scale with weights that tries to strike a balance; it shows support for the China trips by KMT Chairman Lien Chan and PFP Chairman James Soong, but in the meantime, it also calls on Beijing to start a dialogue with the Taiwan administration.... The United States has many times expressed its support for the ‘1992 consensus’ and has urged President Chen Shui-bian to say something about the consensus in his inaugural speeches. ‘One China with both sides free to interpret what it means’ is Washington’s ‘bottom line,’ but it cannot say it directly to the KMT, and the focus [of the bottom line] lies really in ‘the free interpretation by both sides’ rather than the ‘one China.’ Even though Washington’s position made known to the international community is that it adheres to the ‘one China’ policy, the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan still need to keep their differences regarding the one China, otherwise if the interaction across the Taiwan Strait leans toward ‘unification,’ the cross-Strait situation may become more difficult to control. If we are to judge Lien’s trip of peace based on this assumption, under the interactive constraints of the triangular relationship between Washington, Taipei and Beijing, it will be difficult for Lien to achieve any breakthroughs with regard to Taiwan’s sovereignty issue. At most, both sides can return to the ambiguity of ‘free interpretation’ of the one China whereas Beijing acknowledges the fact that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are ruled separately and tacitly recognizes the existence of the Republic of China. There is of course a long distance from such a development to the final ‘unification,’ but since tension will be alleviated and status quo maintained, Lien’s trip will be a result that both Washington and Beijing are happy to see.”
"If Both Lien And Soong Could Visit Mainland China With Chen Shui-bian’s Blessing"
Conservative, pro-unification United Daily News editorialized (4/22): "Lien’s and Soong’s visits to mainland China this time are the first major personal meetings between senior political leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait over the past 56 years. The visits are also the first-ever turning point following the more than ten years of ‘try-and-error process’ of the cross-Strait relations. Not only the thoughts of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait but also the whole world’s attention will focus on these visits. As a result, it should not be regarded as an exaggeration if we say the visits by Lien and Soong ‘must be successful.’ If Lien and Soong have successful separate trips to China, it will be a win-win situation for both sides. If they fail, neither side of the Taiwan Strait wins.... For Taiwan in particular, it should not view these trips simply as programs for Lien or Soong or for the KMT or the PFP. Taiwan should see the visits as a development commonly yearned by both the ruling and opposition parties of Taiwan.”
"The ‘Republic of China’ Emerges In Lien’s And Soong’s Visits To China"
Hsiao Hsu-tsen commented in centrist, pro-status quo China Times (4/21): “Lien Chan and James Soong will visit China in succession as guests of Chinese Communist Party’s Secretary-General Hu Jintao. These visits can indeed be viewed as major events in the history of cross-Strait interaction...The focus of Lien’s first-ever visit to China is its historical significance and the ice-breaking atmosphere. Soong will visit China on Lien's heels, and given the foundation of the 10-point consensus reached by Soong and President Chen and the four-point talks by Hu in early March, his visit has kind of demonstrated the ‘indistinct dialogue’ flavor between the leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.... Beijing’s new way of thinking and its flexibility are evident as demonstrated by China's People’s Political Consultative Committee Chairman Jia Qinglin’s mention of the ‘Republic of China’ March 31 and his words that ‘ROC and the PRC are two separate teams under a single brand’ to the breakthrough that Lien can step foot on mainland China using his ROC passport. Lien and Soong both see the ‘ROC’ as a bottom line for all political views. If Beijing can put aside the ‘one China syllogism’ as mentioned in [former Chinese President] Jiang Zemin’s eight-points and is willing to acknowledge the ‘ROC’ in an indirect and implicit way, chances for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resume dialogue will be greatly increased. Given such a foundation, Lien’s and Soong’s upcoming visits to China have highlighted that Beijing would rather step back and accept the ‘ROC’ than watch Taiwan move forward to become ‘the Republic of Taiwan.’ This development may be seen as additional splendor for the Pan-Blue camp that has always upheld the constitution and national title of the ROC. But for President Chen Shui-bian’s DPP government, it is a ball thrown out by China that is most difficult to catch. It depends on Chen’s wisdom to determine how to catch such a ball.”
"We Will Not Allow Lien And Soong To Offer The Safety And Well-being Of The 23 Million Taiwan People As Tribute To Curry Favor With China"
Pro-independence Liberty Times editorialized (4/20): “In other words, in terms of national sovereignty, China is Taiwan’s only enemy; as for the aspect of economic development, China is Taiwan’s biggest competitor. In the face of such an enemy and a rival that tries to get all it wants by fair means or foul, Taiwan’s cross-Strait policy must focus on self-protection; namely, it must make sure that the foundation of Taiwan’s economic developments will not be undermined, its freedom and democracy will not be sabotaged, and that its national sovereignty will not be trampled. Based on such a pre-condition, Taiwan obviously should maintain a certain distance with China so as to ensure its safety. The visits to China by Taiwan’s opposition party leaders, with or without the government’s authorization or the ten-point consensus reached between Chen and Soong, are inappropriate behaviors. In particular, China is getting more and more skillful in applying the united front tactics on Taiwan. It could appeal to the Anti-Secession Law on one hand and befriend Lien and Soong on the other so as to be ready to launch an attack against the Taiwan government simultaneously from within and without. The government will fall into a trap set by China if it decides to treat Lien’s and Soong’s visits differently.”
"Expediency Only Goes So Far"
The pro-independence, English-language Taipei Times remarked (4/20): “Before Lien and Soong visit Beijing, it is crucial that the leaders of the three main parties hold a summit on national affairs. Only if some level of consensus is reached will the KMT and PFP chairmen be able to engage in substantive negotiations with Beijing.... To ensure that the Taiwanese people emerge as victors from these talks, the two party chairmen should demand legislators push through the long-delayed arms-procurement bill before arriving in China. We all know that peace is built on security, so Taiwan should first secure its position before entering into talks with China. Only then will the talks hold any meaning.”
"Beijing’s Plan Is That Lien and Soong Will Build a Bridge For Bian To ‘Take A New Route’"
Wang Li-chuan commented in conservative, pro-unification United Daily News (4/20): “Beijing has been very proactively in inviting the chairmen of Taiwan’s two major political parties to visit mainland China lately in an attempt to open a new channel and platform for cross-Strait dialogue and communication. The cross-Strait situation is now at a state of ‘Where the hills and streams end and there seems no road beyond, amidst shading willows and blooming flowers another village appears’ meaning one begins to see hope when all seems lost. Beijing’s invitations revealed many of its intentions: in addition to show the United States its attitude to build the channel of dialogue across the Taiwan Strait proactively, China also wants to place pressure on the Chen Shui-bian government using the power of Taiwan’s opposition parties so as to force him to accept the ‘1992 consensus’ and to push the cross-Strait ties back to the ‘one China’ framework. Judged either from the domestic or international perspective, the Chen Shui-bian administration and his party will suffer a great pressure following KMT Chairman Lien Chan’s and PFP Chairman James Soong’s visits to China.... Beijing’s invitations to the leaders of Taiwan’s two major opposition parties are all the more a gesture to show to the international community that even though Beijing has passed the Anti-Secession Law, its position is to advocate cross-Strait peace and stability.... Lien and Soong will soon visit mainland China separately, and a new aspect for the cross-Strait relations will be unveiled. The Beijing authorities have more than once sent out signals of ‘reconciliation’ to the Chen Shui-bian administration and his party; its purpose of hoping that the DPP will ‘take a new route’ is more than evident.”
"PRC Visits By Lien And Soong Reflect Political Sea Change"
The conservative, pro-unification, English-language China Post noted (4/20): “The scheduled historic visits to Beijing in the next few weeks by KMT chairman Lien Chan and PFP leaders James Soong reflect a sea change in Taiwan’s domestic politics and may pave the way for this island and its arch-rival mainland China to bury the hatchet and move toward political reconciliation..... When examined deeply, however, Lien and Soong’s coming mainland trips mark a shift in a popular mood to improve relations with China. It is this nascent opinion shift that has emboldened the KMT and PFP leaders to embrace Beijing without having to worry that their new policy will cause their parties to lose voter support, as they have been in the past. Meanwhile, Lien and Soong’s bold initiatives to visit Beijing reflect a corresponding decline in Chen’s political influence and his usually powerful populism. He can no longer continue to deny an opposition role in the debate on cross-strait policy by painting their politicians red by accusing them of selling out Taiwan or being the communists’ fellow travelers. The current surge in the embrace of China among the opposition leaders, in fact, is only part of a recent series of developments that underscore a dwindling in the influence of the independence movement as a whole, and this dwindling was brought about by three major factors. First and more important is the DPP’s humiliating setbacks in the December election. The inability of Chen, who campaigned for a new Constitution and a plan to change China-linked names of all government institutions, to win a legislative majority has made it impossible for him to carry out those plans. More fundamentally, the poll setbacks have weakened his legitimacy to push for his political agenda. Another factor was a change in U.S. policy. For the past year or so, Washington has reinforced its stance of not supporting Taiwan independence by consistently warning Chen not to take any moves to unilaterally alter the cross-strait status quo. Otherwise, he could risk losing U.S. backing. A third reason is the impact of Beijing’s recently enacted anti-secession law, which authorizes the mainland to attack Taiwan if it moves toward formal independence. The threat of attack has produced a constraining impact on Chen and his administration.”
GERMANY: "We Are China, You Are China"
George Blume judged in center-left weekly Die Zeit (4/28): "At the summit meeting in Beijing, two winners of globalization, not winners and losers in the Cold war, will meet on Thursday. For Beijing, the Taiwanese Kuomintang opposition party comes at the right time. Thus far, every threat to wage war against Taiwan has turned out to be a boomerang. Now the Chinese Communist Party seems to have found an addressee in Taipei. It cannot be ruled out that the CP will make many presents to the KMT. We even heard rumors of a withdrawal of medium-sized missiles, but even small steps promise success. In the end, the issue is Beijing's will to make peace. Rarely before has the CP had such a good opportunity to give evidence of this."
"Beijing's Spirit Of Discord"
Peter Sturm noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/27): "Taiwan's opposition leader Lien Chan called his trip to Beijing a 'peace journey,' but people at home have a different view. The demonstrators, who support Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian, made this clear. We must hope that the quarrelers do not let themselves be carried away by overreactions. The accusation of betrayal against Lien Chan is inappropriate as long as he does not allow the powers-that-be in Beijing to manipulate him for their purposes. But if he succeeded in building a bridge between Beijing and Taipei, a bridge that is able to cope with strains, much would be won. But Beijing should then also play its role, since it bans any contact with the government in Taiwan. China is now exploiting Chan's anger, which is based on his election defeat last year, to drive a wedge into Taiwan's policy towards China. There can be no doubt about Beijing's long-term intentions. Taiwan should 'return' to the Chinese fatherland. It would now be up to the parties in Taipei to find an understanding on a reasonable position and to represent this in the international arena."
RUSSIA: "Opening A New Era"
Aleksandr Zorin said in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/27): “The official visit by Taiwan’s opposition leader, according to observers, marks a new beginning in relations between former enemies, possibly ushering in Beijing’s new policy toward Taiwan.”
"A Chance To Make Up With Beijing"
Yelena Shesternina wrote in reformist Izvestiya (4/27): “At long last Taiwan has a chance to make up with mainland China. Of course, few believe this will be final, with the ‘two Chinas’ having been at odds with each other for so many years. Even so, it is a historic visit.... Clearly, this is not the time for talks on independence, with some 700 Chinese missiles facing the ‘rebel island’ from across the Taiwan Straits and no guarantee Beijing will not put them to use once it decides peaceful means won’t work anymore.”
IRELAND: "Exploring The Options"
The center-left Irish Times noted (4/28): “The visit of Taiwan's opposition nationalist leader Lien Chan to China this week is the first such since his party, the Kuomintang, fled the mainland in 1949 for what was then the island of Formosa to set up a government in exile. The huge difference in scale between China's 1.3 billion population and Taiwan's 23 million is compensated for by the latter's advanced development, which makes it one of the principal investors in China's booming economy, despite political tensions between them.... Pro-independence sentiment has been growing in Taiwan, as seen in the victory of President Chen Shui-bian over Mr Chan in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. But the balance of opinion still favors a long term accommodation stopping short of independence. That this is a significant symbolic occasion can readily be seen in the high profile welcome extended to Mr Chan in Nanjing yesterday. Over the next week he will meet many Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao. It suits them to highlight the visit, partly to mitigate the negative message sent out internationally by the anti-secession law passed by the Chinese National People's Congress six weeks ago. Aside from the angry reception it received in Taiwan from political leaders and popular opinion, it has affected European attitudes towards the planned lifting of the EU's arms embargo against China imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.... Mr Chan has pledged not to reach any formal agreements with China during his visit to the mainland which could compromise the Taiwanese government's position in future negotiations. But there can be no denying the political significance of this visit for future relations between the two.”
CANADA: "Communist-Kuomintang Meeting Heavy With Symbolism"
Jonathan Manthorpe reflected in the left-of-center Vancouver Sun (4/27): "The meeting in Beijing between current Communist leader and China's president, Hu Jintao, and Lien Chan, head of the Kuomintang, which is now the main opposition party in the island state of Taiwan, is thus heavy with symbolism. More important, it is ripe to bursting with modern political intrigue.... President Chen's first instinct was to ban Lien's eight-day visit to the mainland. On Monday, however, Chen had an 11-minute phone conversation with the opposition leader and gave his blessing to Lien's visit, but within strict boundaries. Chen underlined that Lien is visiting China as a private citizen without any authority to make deals with Beijing. Taiwan is a sovereign state, Chen said, and will only talk to China when Beijing treats the island as an equal partner and not as 'a rebel province.' Chen's change of heart on the Lien visit reflects current political reality on Taiwan. The majority mood among Taiwanese is to try to find a working relationship with China that averts an invasion. At the same time the vast majority of Taiwanese want to keep their status as an independent country, though many, perhaps a slim majority, are prepared to defer international recognition of their nationhood to keep China at bay.... A Chinese invasion of Taiwan could quickly lead to a wide Far Eastern war. The United States is legally bound to aid Taiwan's defence and both Washington and Japan have recently said a Chinese invasion would be a threat to their own security interests. Chen has therefore lowered the volume on his pro-independence drive, not least because it irritates Washington, which likes to choose its own wars.... Many voices have been raised on Taiwan in the past few days urging Lien to tell Beijing the truth about the islanders' sentiments towards China. Whether he does or not may reveal whether he is a Chinese or a Taiwanese patriot."
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