Lien calls to promote peace
Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan on Friday appealed for efforts from both sides to promote peace across the Taiwan Straits.
During a speech at Peking University, the Kuomintang (KMT) chairman said his call stemmed from historical trends and the will of the people.
"Putting people first and giving priority to their well-being is a policy that will win support from both the 23 million in Taiwan and the 1.3 billion people on the mainland."
The 69-year-old KMT leader launched a charm offensive with his 40-minute speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by applause.
In the speech, which was televised in both the mainland and Taiwan, the former Taiwan University political science professor quoted statesmen including late US president Ronald Reagan and late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
To demonstrate his humorous side, he even tried to speak some words in Sichuan dialect when he mentioned late leader Deng Xiaoping, triggering a burst of laughter from his audience.
Lien criticized the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for its secessionist activities such as writing a new "constitution" for the island, promoting de-Sinofication and pushing a pro-"independence" timetable.
Such attempts would destroy the basis for the well-being of all people, he warned.
Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian of the DPP once pledged to bring a new "constitution" to the island on December 10, 2006 and put it into force on May 20, 2008.
The KMT chairman strongly defended his journey of peace to the mainland, saying to build a bridge across the Straits is something the people will welcome.
"The people want to avoid confrontation, hostility and collision. What they want to see is dialogue and reconciliation across the Straits and bilateral co-operation," he said.
Lien called on both sides to carry forward Peking University's tradition of upholding tolerance and diversity to promote mutual benefit and a win-win situation.
Taiwan and the mainland should strengthen their economic integration while at the same time safeguarding a stable political status quo across the Straits, he said.
"The two sides of the Straits must maintain the status quo," he told the audience.
"To maintain the status quo is one way we can avoid dispute. Another way is to seek common ground and accumulate goodwill."
At the end of the speech, he expressed his confidence that the Chinese nation would have enough wisdom and capability to turn sword into plowshare and establish long lasting peace across the Straits.
The audience were impressed by Lien's speech which was followed by a short question-and-answer session.
Wei Mingda, a Peking University student, said Lien demonstrated courage in shouldering the responsibility of the Chinese nation.
"During the speech, Chairman Lien showed his political vision to boost cross-Straits relations," Wei said.
"We appreciate his contribution to promoting peace and stability between Taiwan and the mainland."
Liu Deying, a teacher with the university's School of Environment, said he was impressed by the KMT leader.
"We can feel his deep love for the Chinese nation because he had to overcome so much difficulty to make this visit to the mainland, the first in 56 years," the teacher told China Daily.
"He has made history by opening new ground for developing cross-Straits relations."
(China Daily 04/30/2005 page1)