KMT Calls for Better Across-Straits Ties
Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT) on Sunday called on the government to improve the icy ties with Beijing by embracing the "one China" principle.

"We urged the ruling authorities to positively respond to the calls of the opposition parties," KMT chairman Lien Chan told the opening of the party's congress in Taoyuan, 40 kilometers south of Taipei.

He referred to the push for a swift reopening of the "National Reunification Council," set-up by the former KMT government for formulating long-term reunification strategies.

The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has virtually frozen the council since it won the local election and ended the KMT's 51-year grip on power last year.

Lien, the former "vice-president," also asked the DPP government to return to the KMT government's official line in dealing with Beijing -- "one China with different interpretations."

The KMT said the policy it worked out after reaching an agreement with Beijing in 1992 had helped maintain peace in the Taiwan Straits as it at least guaranteed the island would not seek independence.

"In so doing, the two sides can reopen the negotiations..." Lien said.

Beijing called off the rapprochement talks in 1995 due to then "president" Lee Teng-hui's visit to the United States, alleging it was part of Taipei's bid for independence.

Lien also asked Beijing to weigh a fresh peace overture from his party, under which a confederation linking Taiwan and the mainland would be established before any potential reunification.

The mainland has repeatedly said that the confederation proposal could not be accepted, and the "one country two systems" is the sole solution on the question of Taiwan.

The confederation proposal, unveiled earlier this month in a KMT position paper, was coldly rejected by Beijing, which favours the "one country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong and Macao are governed.

"We are in favor of the reunification of China, and the `one-country two systems' formula, but we are not in favor of a confederate system," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said earlier this month at a routine press briefing.

The proposal was also greeted with criticism at a meeting of the party's decision-making central standing committee last week, with critics voicing concern the proposal was close to the controversial "statehood claim" put forward by Lee.

The KMT decided not to include the proposal in its party platform at the congress.

(People's Daily 07/29/2001)