Mar 07, 2006

Taiwan: Tsai Welcomes Chinas Proposal

If the Chinese proposal to contact with pro-independence politicians is true, it will advance cross-strait relations and warm them up as well as develop both sides in a positive direction
Vice Premier Tsai Ing-wen yesterday welcomed a proposal from a top Chinese leader for the Beijing authorities to make contact with pro-independence politicians.

"If the report is true, this will help cross-strait relations to warm up and will help the two sides develop in a positive direction," Tsai said, while stumping for a lawmaker taking part in a by election in Chiayi city.

A Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po, quoted top Communist official Jia Qinglin as saying at a high-level meeting that Beijing should "utilize existing conditions" and make contact with a broad cross-section of Taiwan society, including members of the "pan-green" political camp.

The pan-green political camp includes the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).

"If the opportunity arises, we can also make contact with hard-line pan-green members," Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was quoted as saying.

Tsai said if Jia's remarks represented the future direction of Beijing's policies, it was a "positive development".

"Provided Taiwan's sovereignty is respected, the DPP government will actively engage in matters involving contacts between the two sides," she said.

Jia's remarks signal a departure from China's previous line of wooing the opposition and public with offerings such as pandas and tax breaks while ignoring politicians who support Taiwan independence.

Jia said Beijing would still shun the government here as Taipei continued to deny a consensus between the two sides existed in 1992 to accept the "one China" principle.

President Chen Shui-bian recently infuriated Beijing by scrapping the National Unification Council (NUC). Analysts have told The China Post that Beijing's next likely move will be to court members of Chen's DPP to chip away at Chen's support base and isolate the president.

DPP whip legislator Yeh Yi-jin said Jia's proposal represented typical Chinese united front propaganda tactics -- but her party was not afraid to make contact with Beijing.

"We will not ban contact with China because of this," she said. "After making contact, it is possible that the two sides may have an even greater understanding," she said.

The director of the DPP's mainland affairs department Lai Yi-chung said his party would watch China's actions to see if Jia's proposal was genuine.

According to Lai, Beijing once said previously it wanted to make contact with the DPP. After this, Lai said he personally made an application to go to China and it got knocked back.

"I heard that this wasn't an isolated incident," Lai said.

However, the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT's) mainland affairs department director Chang Jung-kung said Beijing was trying to isolate Chen to the greatest degree possible amid rising support for Taiwan independence.

In related reports, Vice Premier Tsai also said the media was making too much of a recent interview President Chen Shui-bian gave to Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun.

The president in the interview said he wanted to create a new Constitution better suited to Taiwan's situation, sparking speculation that he might try to inflame cross-strait tensions.

However, Tsai said Chen would make changes according to procedures and regulations outlined in the current Constitution. The new Constitution would not violate Chen's "five noes" policy, which is aimed at maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, she said.

Source: China Post