Guidelines are key to breakthrough

Koo was an ideal candidate for promoting cross-strait exchanges, and if the government had truly wanted to develop such exchanges, he would have been in a position to exceed their expectations. But if the government had no motivation, there was little Koo could achieve.

To elaborate, the SEF is only a “dependent variable” without the ability to decide its functions for itself; the “independent variable” that decides its functions is controlled by high-ranking government officials. Assuming that leaders on both sides are enthusiastic in their attitude toward cross-strait exchanges, the new chairman of the SEF can still achieve much, even if he is not Koo’s equal.

By following the Guidelines for National Unification, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should be able to proceed toward peace and mutual prosperity. It is a pity that the guidelines were sidelined by Lee while he was president.

If we read the contents of the guidelines carefully, we can find that they resemble a superior blueprint closely woven for the benefit of all Taiwanese people.

What the Guidelines for National Unification outline is a conditional, phased unification process reaching into the future. Even from the perspective of pro-independence advocates there is little to be anxious about. It is simply the word “unification” that disturbs them.

First, the unification specified in the guidelines is not to happen immediately.

Second, the unification is conditional on China’s democratization and compatibility of cross-strait political and economic systems. If China truly is as bad as pro-independence advocates say it is, the compatibility premise will never be met, and therefore, unification will never be possible.

Third, if China does meet the conditions of the guidelines by political and economic liberalization, by that time, unification or independence will no longer be an issue, and there would be no need to oppose unification. Or indeed, why would China oppose Taiwan independence?

Our government officials do not have the patience to wait until the right time, and in turn, they choose to confront China. This is to be regretted.

Koo has passed away, but rather than discussing who will succeed him, it would be better if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) were to exercise his political wisdom and restore the guidelines to a more prominent role. This is the key to creating a breakthrough in cross-strait relations.

C.V. Chen was the first secretary-general of the SEF. He is a senior partner at the law firm Lee and Li and president of the Red Cross Society.

TRANSLATED BY LIN YA-TI

【2005/01/14  Taipei Times 940114】