Feb 20, 2006

Taiwan:Cross-Strait Relations Show Steady Growth

Cross-strait relations in the past year showed "steady growth," according to a report on the climate of cross-strait peace in 2005 unveiled Monday
Cross-strait relations in the past year showed "steady growth," according to a report on the climate of cross-strait peace in 2005 unveiled Monday.

Chien Hsi-chieh, executive director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, unveiled the report prepared by the foundation at a news conference.

He noted that over the past year, the incidents that had a negative impact on cross-strait relations included China's enactment of the anti-secession law which codifies the use of force against Taiwan should the island move toward formal independence, Beijing's deployment of 784 missiles targeting Taiwan, its crackdown on human rights, and its press censorship.

While in Taiwan, a major arms procurement project has turned into persistent political squabbling between the ruling and the opposition parties, Chien said.

But he also pointed out that several incidents had a positive impact on cross-strait ties, including a meeting between President Chen Shui-bian and opposition People First Party Chairman James Soong in February 2005 in which they agreed that the national status of the Republic of China as stated in the Constitution defines the de facto and de jure status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

Both Chen and Soong also said that abiding by the Constitution, maintaining the status quo and promoting peace should be the guiding principles for cross-strait relations, Chien added.

Other incidents included the visits of two main opposition leaders -- former Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan and Soong -- to China in the first half of 2005, both sides of the Taiwan Strait discussed cross-strait chartered flight service during the Chinese New Year holiday, several private groups sponsored cross-strait forums, and China granted tariff free treatment to 15 items of agricultural products from Taiwan.

On President Chen's proposal to scrap the National Unification Council (NUC) and the National Unification Guidelines, Chien also suggested solicitation of views from the public through democratic procedure to quell controversy and to propose more positive measures to solicit cross-strait peace dialogue.

The NUC is an organization set up by the former Kuomintang administration in 1990 to promote the eventual unification of Taiwan and China and is therefore considered by Beijing as evidence that the island is not moving toward de jure independence, which Beijing has threatened to stop with force. Chien said that the NUC and its guidelines have only symbolic meaning, noting that President Chen has never convened an NUC meeting since assuming the presidency in 2000.

Hsu Shih-chien, an assistant researcher at Academia Sinica, the nation's highest academic research institute, said that "common values of the public" is the cornerstone of cross-strait peace.

Noting that human rights, freedom and democracy are the common values of the public, Hsu suggested that Taiwan's government be concerned more about China's crackdown on human rights.

Lin Chong-pin, former vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council and presently executive director of the think tank Foundation on International & Cross-strait Studies, said that Taiwan authorities' support for Chinese civil rights activists in China has been too little.

Noting that on the question of whether there will be unification, "the time is on the side of the people," and that the government should formulate its cross-strait policy based on the common interests of both sides of the Taiwan Strait, Lin urged the government to focus its concern on China's democratic and human rights situations, he added.


Source: Central News Agency (CNA)