... .. opinion


On the surface, Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian's offer of "peaceful and stable interaction" with the mainland appears to be an olive branch that is difficult to resist.

Under a "principle of peace," the island's chief executive has proposed the two sides of the Taiwan Straits swap envoys, establish a demilitarized zone, recognize each other's "jurisdiction," refrain from interfering in each other's "foreign affairs" and adopt concrete measures to avoid military conflicts.

"President" Chen's latest "peace" overture indeed appears to contain all the ingredients of goodwill, and turning down such a beautifully packaged gift could easily be construed as turning a deaf ear to a plea for peace.

But Chen is an expert at making things appear to be what they are not. And this prescription is far from what it looks like at first glance.

Not that "president" Chen does not want peace, despite his recent bragging of a "holy war" against the mainland.

His current "peace" initiative shows he is eager to avoid conflict. But all his proposals boil down to the request that the mainland peacefully disarm itself and forsake its sovereignty over Taiwan, which is part of its territory. He understands too well that will never be acceptable to the Chinese mainland.

Chen has been frank in acknowledging the mainland's emphasis on one-China policy is a thorn in his side. He contends the mainland's insistence on one-China policy as a precondition has "frustrated and impeded" negotiations across the Straits.

Therefore, he suggests the two sides try to seek "space for consensus and compromise" on their fundamental standpoints and principles.

That is no different from an outright call for the mainland to acquiesce in, if not support, his plot to separate Taiwan from its motherland.

In case some might be ignorant of "president" Chen's agenda, he expressed in explicit terms that he would hold island-wide referendum in 2004, make a new "constitution" through referendum in 2006, and win "normal and complete statehood for Taiwan" in 2008.

By calling on the two sides to "resolve all disputes in a peaceful manner," Chen is setting a trap for the mainland.

Behind that high-sounding rhetoric is his fantasy to tie the mainland's hands so he can do whatever he wants.

(China Daily 02/05/2004 page6)


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