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Soong: 'Taiwan consciousness' not 'Taiwan independence'
By Yu Zheng (Xinhua)
Updated: 2005-05-11 14:40

Taiwan's second largest opposition party leader said in Beijing Wednesday that "Taiwan consciousness" should not be treated the same as "Taiwan independence" though it was once manipulated by secessionist forces to seek "Taiwan independence."

James CY Soong, chairman of the People First Party (PFP) who isleading a delegation for a nine-day mainland trip, said in a speech at prestigious Qinghua University that "Taiwan consciousness" is the natural development of Taiwan compatriots' emotion for their land and their past history.

"Manipulating 'Taiwan consciousness' in pursuit of 'Taiwan independence' is a narrow resort distorting history and throwing away the root of people in Taiwan," said Soong in his first visit to the mainland since 1949 when he and his family left for Taiwan.

"As an indigenous political force," the 63-year-old politician said, "the PFP is passionate for 'Taiwan consciousness' but never sees 'Taiwan independence' as its choice."

"We always believe that 'Taiwan independence' is a dead lane for people in Taiwan," Soong said, "therefore, we firmly oppose 'Taiwan independence'."

However, he appealed people on the mainland to understand "Taiwan consciousness" which has complicated historical roots.

"People in Taiwan often worry about that the change in the status quo across the Straits would have what they have created inthe past decades come to nothing," Soong said, adding this was thebasis of the "Taiwan consciousness" characterized by "highly self-protection."

While the mainland people are knowing more about Taiwan, he said, Taiwan compatriots should also keep abreast with the day-to-day change in the mainland.

"Mutual understanding might lead to reconciliation and further to a wise solution to the current stalemate in cross-Straits relations," he said.

Citing an adage in a Taiwan prevailing dialect, "Eating too fast makes people bite rice bowl," Soong said that patience is needed for dealing with differences between the two sides.

"Only by putting people's welfare first can we find a workable solution accepted by both sides," he said.

Soong said that nobody in the world can hold back the Chinese people from resolving their own problems "peacefully."

"History should be taken as a mirror to prevent previous wrongdoing from happening again," the PFP chairman said.

Soong recalled an old man in Nanjing who trespassed heavy police lines to reach him and quoted him as saying, "Mr. Soong, weneed no war."

"We should strive to realize the common aspiration of people across the Straits for peace," Soong said.

On China's takeoff, he said, "Currently it is the best time in history that the Chinese nation enjoys their most prosperous and richest life. It is also a critical moment the Chinese people shake off the century-old humiliations."

Noting that the latest edition of Newsweek magazine describes the 21st century as "China's Century," Soong said the Chinese nation will never seek hegemony and China will always remain a "humble power," which is the essence of the Chinese culture "we areunfolding to foreigners."

Soong's current visit came one day after the mainland trip by Chairman Lien Chan of the Kuomintang party and will also culminatein a meeting with Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, slated for Thursday.

Soong said he was expecting to meet with Hu and promised to work hard for peace across the Straits and the interests of peoplein Taiwan when back in Taipei.

"Ask me not what I said in Beijing," Soong said, "ask me only what we're doing back in Taiwan."

To realize the common aspirations of all Chinese, the PFP "willnever miss any more opportunities," he said. "We will not let them(both mainland and Taiwan people) down."

Peng Zhiguo, a Qinghua graduate student who raised the first question to Soong after the speech, said he was most impressed by Soong's remarks on the feelings of the people in Taiwan. He hoped the PFP chairman would convey to Taiwan compatriots the mainland people's pathos for the temporary separation of the motherland.

Zhang Qiang, a student at Qinghua's mass communication school, said she was confused why the Taiwan authorities are placing obstacles against the consensus reached between the CPC and the Kuomintang last week, including non-tariff import of Taiwan fruits.

"The political parties in Taiwan should serve the broad masses of the people, not their constituencies or partisan interests," she said.

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