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Comment: Chen's new tricks, but same old story
( 2003-10-28 08:55) (China Daily)

At an evening celebrating the 17th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Progressive Party on September 28, Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian declared the party would complete three missions: "holding a referendum," "being re-elected" and "gaining more than half of the seats in the 'legislative yuan'." Chen promised that, together with the Taiwan public, the party would promote the birth of a "new constitution" for Taiwan by 2006.

Chen's "new constitution" plan is a key step towards "Taiwan independence" and is also a timetable for that attempt, an article in the Beijing-based magazine Taiwan Weekly said.

Chen dished out this "time-table" due to the following reasons.

First, this is perceived as helpful to distract the Taiwan public's focus so as to consolidate votes for himself in next year's election.

Chen's "constitution" remarks are a continuation of his "one country on each side" and "referendum" fallacy.

Due to his poor administration, Chen's election stratagems of dividing the opposition alliance and buying votes by taking advantage of policies failed to work effectively. Hence, Chen had to throw out the so-called "new constitution" remarks to divert election topics from economy and people's lives to "re-unification" or "independence" so he can dominate the agenda, provoking disputes between Taiwan natives and mainlanders settling down on the island and distract the public's focus away from his poor administration.

Second, "making a new constitution and establishing a state" is inherent to his party.

Since the 1990s, attempting to achieve the goal of "independence" by means of "referendum" and "making a new 'constitution'," the party has been actively engaged in the activities aimed at separating Taiwan from its motherland.

Since Chen Shui-bian took office, the trick of "gradual independence" has been rampantly promoted. Chen's "new constitution" remarks are an inevitable outcome of the "gradual independence" promoted since the separatist forces ruled Taiwan.

Third, this can inspire the morale of the party to get ready for next year's elections.

Since the party became the ruling coalition, due to corruption its so-called "incorruptible and democratic" image has been affected.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union, which advocates immediate "independence," has even further narrowed the political room of Chen's party.

Hence, under this circumstance, Chen had to raise more radical political ideas.

Following Lee Teng-hui's "deadline" of "establishing an independent Taiwan state" by 2008, Chen immediately trumpeted the accomplishment of creating a new "constitution" by 2006, and he attempts to costume himself as a "warrior for democracy" so as to enhance internal cohesion to the greatest extent.

Fourth, Chen has attempted to provoke the mainland side with topics related to "re-unification or independence," furthering the Taiwan public's misunderstanding and hostility by slandering the mainland and to win support through "populism."

As soon as Chen's "timetable of Taiwan independence" was dished out, it was sharply criticized by various circles on the island.

The opposition parties were all critical about Chen's remarks. The president of Kuomintang Party Lien Chan and the president of the People First Party James Soong criticized Chen's remarks as not only "nonsense" but "ignorant." The Kuomintang viewed Lee's remarks of "establishing a Taiwan state by 2008" and Chen's "new constitution" remarks as "a race for Taiwan independence." Even Yung-Fan Chang, president of the Changrong Group, who supported Chen during the 2000 election, criticized Chen's remarks as a "political show."

The United States expressed its deep concern over Chen's remarks, stressing that it took seriously the "five nots" promised by Chen when he was inaugurated.

Even within Chen's following, some people are not happy with Chen's policy declaration, since it was not approved through democratic procedures within his party.

Facing strong criticism, Chen again played with his old bag of tricks by blurring topics.

On September 30, emphasizing that the final version of the new constitution must be decided directly by the public through a "referendum," Chen changed "promoting the birth of a new constitution by 2006" to "completing the transformation of the constitutional government by 2006."

The spokesmen for Chen's administration also stated that "promoting the birth of a new 'constitution'" will neither involve the issue of "re-unification or independence," national title and flag nor affect the promise of the "five nots."

Taiwan authorities have made all efforts to create excuses for their separatist activities that violated the "five nots" promise.

Chen's "new constitution" remarks are extremely harmful.

First, making use of the Taiwan people's good wishes for being masters of their own affairs, Chen pushed hard for activities of "holding a referendum" and "promoting the birth of a new 'constitution'" under the banner of "democracy" and "reforms," by which he attempted to define the struggle of "re-unification" or "independence" as the struggle of "democracy" or "anti-democracy" and "reform" or "anti-reform" so as to make his separation activities more deceiving.

Second, "referendum" and "new constitution" not only are deceiving but can accelerate the activities of "gradual independence."

Third, by dishing out one after another sensitive topics of "re-unification" or "independence," Chen cannot only inspire the morale of the separatist forces but probably deepens the Taiwan public's misunderstanding with the motherland by confusing the facts.

Fourth, fearing being accused of "selling Taiwan" by the party, opposition groups that usually adopt the methods of tactical containment with regard to the Chen's topics related to "re-unification" or "independence" rather than opposing them instinctively, would likely help pass some sensitive bills such as the "referendum bill."

However, despite Chen's arrogant activities, due to various factors, "promoting the birth of a new 'constitution'" could finally result in a "confusing dream."

First, the mainland is becoming increasingly strong and the mainstream public opinion on the island is "seeking peace, stability and development." They are the major forces containing separation activities.

Second, the majority of the international community has adopted the one-China principle. There is no space for promoting "Taiwan independence."

Third, due to its own strategic interests, the United States stresses that it maintain the status quo of the Taiwan Straits, which also contains the rampant activities of the Taiwan separatists.

Fourth, since Chen assumed office, the basic political structure of the island - namely that the opposition parties are stronger than the ruling party - has not been fundamentally changed.

Fifth, under the current political system of Taiwan, "revising the 'constitution'" or "making a new 'constitution'" will involve the re-distribution of political interests, for which all interests groups will struggle vigorously. Chen's "new constitution" remarks would most probably become a new farce and a new source of political unrest within the island.

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