Chen's Words Fail to Disguise Deceit

Under huge pressure from the mainland and the international community, re-elected Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian did not say anything radical about independence of the island in his inaugural address on May 20.

But a lack of such words in Chen's speech does not mean that he has abandoned his long-held policy of permanently separating Taiwan from China. To placate the mainland and the United States, the independence-minded Taiwan leader adopted a less aggressive stance on the independence issue in an attempt to ensure his power on the island for longer and in order to create conditions for its final independence from the mainland at some future date.

In his speech, Chen, ignoring his own disregard for Taiwan's democracy and freedom, prated on about the island's democracy and human rights and tried to portray himself as the idol of democracy.

In his lengthy remarks, Chen set a lot of traps aimed at generating confrontation across the Taiwan Straits to help further the creation of a permanent Taiwan state independent of China.

His putting Taiwan to the opposite of China and mentioning of "Taiwan, the Republic of China" showed his attempt to create the false impression that Taiwan is already a de facto independent state.

Chen said people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits had once shared a common blood linkage, culture and historical background, but his undisguised implication was that both sides nowadays no longer enjoy that common culture and historical background, revealing his deception to common Taiwanese. Chen talked a lot about the spirit of Taiwan, the life of its people, and the construction of a new Taiwan. He also stressed that the status quo of the Taiwan Straits should not be unilaterally changed, which essentially means that Taiwan should never be reunified with the mainland. Under his smooth talk, his undisguised conspiracy to pursue an independent Taiwan was readily apparent.

The speech also demonstrated Chen's obvious intention of internationalizing the Taiwan question and shifting the main battlefield between the two sides across the Straits to the international community.

Nowhere in his entire speech did Chen excessively provoke the mainland with such separatist words as "deciding on a new constitution through referendum," but he still put cross-Straits relations under the framework of "one country on each side" with "Republic of China and People's Republic of China" or "Taiwan and China" as two "equal nations." He said he would continue to integrate Taiwan into the international community and international organizations to make the island's status on the world map unshakable.

These words implicitly contain the statement that Taiwan's ROC is an independent sovereign country and Chen's strategy of internationalizing the Taiwan question.

Throughout his speech, Chen said he hoped to continue his efforts to bring Taiwan into international non-governmental organizations and expected the international community's mediation in maintaining peace and security across the Straits and in the Asia Pacific region, in an attempt to further internationalize the Taiwan question. He also said he would try in the coming two years to win Taiwan membership in the World Health Organization, which only sovereign countries can join.

It is obvious that in the next four years the Taiwan authorities under Chen's control will take more measures to push for Taiwan's participation in international society as an equal member with independent sovereignty, and gradually develop the de facto independence of the island into a legally-grounded independence recognized by the international community.

The inaugural speech also demonstrated Chen's obvious consideration for the political struggle of his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with opposition parties in the island.

In the long political struggle between the pan-green camp led by Chen and the pan-blue camp established by Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party Chairman James Soong, the latter has long held high the banner of the ROC. It has been opposed to Taiwan's radical independence, opposed to making a new constitution through referendum which involves the change of the scope of "sovereignty" of the island, and has stressed the two sides across the Taiwan Straits share a common culture.

Such positions have become an important social foundation for the pan-blue camp's subsistence and development on the island.

In his speech, however, Chen also embraced his political adversary's proposals after putting them into a new package. He said he would officially recognize and accept the ROC, although his ROC is essentially different from the ROC his political foe refers to, and would not push for a new constitution through referendum but make some reforms to the existing one instead. He also said he would not touch on such sensitive issues as the island's "sovereignty," territory, and reunification or independence.

But all these words were Chen's tactics to gain an advantageous position for the DPP in its struggle with the pan-blue camp for power of the island, to enlist support from Taiwanese siding with the pan-blue camp, and to make it difficult for his political adversary to find a suitable line and position to attack him. He hopes in this way he can finally realize his dream of keeping his DPP in power.

Chen's inaugural address also ushered in an unoptimistic prospect for cross-Straits relations.

In his speech, Chen's seemingly moderate position could not camouflage his long-nurtured conspiracy of creating an independent Taiwan. His promise that the issues of "national sovereignty," territory and reunification or independence would not be listed into the agenda for the reformation of the island's constitution and politics did not fundamentally change his attempt to continue to push for Taiwan independence, to continue to push his policy of ridding the island of Chinese characters, and to continue to uphold the policy of creating two Chinas in the international community.

In his speech, Chen left little room for cross-Straits exchanges, saying he hoped the two sides maintain a reciprocal and co-operative relationship and continue expanding exchanges in the fields of the press, information, education, culture, economics and trade. But such good plans will be difficult to realize under the context of his unceasing pursuit of independence for Taiwan. Without accepting the one-China principle, there is no room for essential improvement of the cross-Straits ties.

Chen said he would not change his commitments made four years ago, which is a positive response to the US demand that he should reaffirm his promise of the "five nos," namely, not to declare independence, not change the name of the island, not constitutionalize the description of Taiwan's relationship with the mainland as "state-to-state," not push for a referendum on independence, and not to abolish the "Programme for State Reunification" or the "Commission for State Reunification" as long as the mainland does not use its military to attack Taiwan.

But the fact is that over the past four years, Chen has completely defied the "five nos" commitment, and has gone farther on the road of independence.

Exactly during this period, Chen has stressed that Taiwan should go its own road. During this period, he created the "one country on each side" theory, and drafted plans for a new constitution, a serious step towards independence of the island.

Chen's past words and actions show he is a person who has lost faith in the people of both the island and the mainland. And thus no one can guarantee he will not take more dangerous steps to separate Taiwan from China.

The prospects for cross-Straits relations are not optimistic and the mainland still faces an arduous task in fighting the Taiwan independence conspiracy.

The author is a researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(China Daily May 31, 2004)