- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party has issued a dramatic proposal for confederation with China following what it saw as a dangerous drift toward a pro-independence stance by former President and party chief Lee Teng-hui, officials said yesterday.
Newspapers in Taiwan called the shift in policy part of a "fundamental realignment of political forces that could further complicate the island's already tense relations with mainland China."
A State Department spokesman said "the new proposal reflects the democratic process in action."
The man who announced the new direction over the weekend, top Nationalist (Kuomintang) leader Su Chi, specifically warned that the party needed "to replace" Mr. Lee's formula for dealing with the mainland, based on a "special state-to-state" relationship.
That formulation, Mr. Su declared, "has obviously driven both Taiwan and the mainland toward confrontation" while the confederation system "will seek to reverse the trend."
Under the proposed confederation, Taiwan and mainland China would be equal, with each controlling its own diplomatic contacts, national defense and internal affairs.
The proposal is expected to be approved by the party's standing Central Committee next week and by its National Congress next month.
Mr. Su stressed that the concept of confederation is "neither an immediate goal nor a final solution" to the dispute across the Taiwan Strait over national unification.
Mr. Su, formerly chief of the government's Mainland Affairs Council and now security chief for a leading National Party think tank, was quoted by the China News Agency, a government wire service.
Nationalist policy, which originally called for the party's reconquest of the mainland when the time was ripe, went through several metamorphoses during the five decades that the Nationalists ruled the island nation.
The most recent formulation, before the weekend announcement, adhered to the principle that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one China, with unification deferred to an indefinite future.
The party lost power for the first time to the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party more than a year ago.
According to Taiwan sources, Mr. Lee more and more has courted elements within the DPP that want to declare independence immediately.
According to one Taiwan source, the specific event that triggered the decision by the Kuomintang to shift policy was the return by Mr. Lee from a foreign trip.
He was met at the airport by people who stood for immediate independence and who lost their campaigns for legislative and local seats in the April 2000 national election.
President Chen Shui-bien has been far more cautious on the issue.
He has said repeatedly there is no need to declare independence because Taiwan is de facto governed separately from the mainland.
"China has in fact said it will invade if Taiwan formally declares independence, and there's no one who can say for certain that it won't," said a source who did not want to be identified.
Mr. Chen has refused to support a 1992 agreement between the Nationalists and Beijing saying "there is only one China."
There are different interpretations of this principle by the two parties.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide