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Towards Mainland China

Remarks at theMainland Affairs Steering Committee of the Kuomintang─A Policy Initiative Towards Mainland China─ Lien Chan

Vice President

Republic of China

This is the first meeting of the KMT's Mainland Affairs Steering Committee in the new millennium. As we now recall, in 1987, the late Chairman Chiang Ching-kuo decided to permit Taiwan residents to visit their relatives on the Chinese mainland, thus starting private-sector exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. In 1991, Chairman Lee Teng-hui announced the termination of the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, opening the door to consultations and interaction between the two sides.

Today, we are meeting to discuss and review our mainland policies. This meeting signifies the necessity of reconsidering such policies for the new century, the new era, and the new environment. As we review our past policies, it is even more important for us to make constant breakthroughs during this period of transition. We are working to protect the security, prosperity, and welfare of the 22 million people in Taiwan and enhance the common interests of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

I am deeply impressed by the reports, which are very important, and the opinions of several members of the committee. At a time when the two sides are about to join the World Trade Organization, we should also try to create a new environment in which people on the two sides can both enjoy reciprocity, prosperity, and a win-win situation. This will be beneficial for the long-term development of bilateral relations and can be achieved only with a forward-looking view, a rational attitude, and a pragmatic approach.

I have said that bilateral relations at the current stage can best be characterized by "three yes's" and "three no's." The "three no's" are no immediate unification, no independence, and no antagonism. The "three yes's" are yes to peace, yes to exchanges, and yes to a win-win result. I have also said that "anything can be discussed as long as there are no preconditions." I have even expressed my willingness to visit the Chinese mainland and hold direct talks with the mainland leadership after I am elected president. All this shows our sincerity.

We understand that we cannot unilaterally institute bilateral exchanges and consultations. A goodwill, reciprocal relationship requires sincerity and patience from both parties. Therefore, I now call on the mainland authorities to implement political and economic reforms in accordance with world trends. We also expect Beijing to work diligently to improve the lives of the people and demonstrate sincere, peaceful intentions towards fellow countrymen on this side of the Taiwan Strait.

During the past 50 years, the two sides have experienced conflicts and antagonism, wasting excessive resources and manpower. At the beginning of the new century, we should no longer be tangled in these quarrels between brothers, which only hurt brotherly feelings and do nothing good for the international community. Therefore, I would like to propose that the governments and peoples on the two sides of the strait adopt a new way of thinking. Let us show our courage and a sense of mission to permanently abandon to the old century those wars and conflicts which have tied us down for nearly half a century.

Since he became head of state, Chairman Lee has devoted all his efforts to accomplishing democratic reforms, which have transformed the ROC into an outstanding leader of the world's third wave of democracy and an excellent model for the future development of the Chinese mainland. Democratic reform has also taught Taiwan's people to be the masters of their own destiny. Such positive thinking has insisted on the assurance of the nation's survival and dignity, as well as our international presence in a reasonable manner. Therefore, our mainland China policy will be meaningful only if it is committed to enhancing the rights and interests of Taiwan and sharing our experience with the mainland. The democratic procedures for Taiwan's people and the progress of democratization on the Chinese mainland are essential conditions for the development of cross-strait relations.

While there are frequent private trade exchanges and people-to-people contacts between the two sides, our two governments do not have a direct channel of communication. This has hindered the elimination of mutual hostility and the realization of mutual respect and non-discrimination in the international arena.

In this age of the global village, countries around the world, without exception, seek to resolve issues and differences to foster beneficial, normalized relations through meetings between their leaders. In this new century, I believe that the leaders in Taipei and Beijing should squarely face the reality that the two sides have separate governments. They should meet as soon as possible to initiate an open and sincere dialogue on any topic that would be beneficial to the welfare of the people on both sides, thereby ushering cross-strait relations into a new era of negotiations, rather than antagonism.

At a meeting with foreign guests on July 23 of last year, I set forth the following four principles for cross-strait relations at the current stage.

First is the principle of pragmatism. Prior to national reunification, both sides will naturally have different interpretations of "one China." President Lee's statement on July 9 regarding the "special state-to-state relationship" between Taiwan and the mainland was nothing more than a pragmatic definition of our status, which coincides not only with the current political situation across the strait but also with the legal reality that the two sides have separate governments, with neither subordinate to the other.

Second is the principle of parity. We are not a local government and should enjoy an equal status in any dialogue with Beijing. Insisting on the principle of parity is not tantamount to advocating Taiwan independence. It would be wrong to equate this insistence with pursuing "Taiwan independence" or the "division of the country."

Third is the principle of progress. Cross-strait relations should not remain stagnant without progress, much less move toward further alienation. They must advance toward preserving security and dignity for both sides.

Fourth is the principle of peace. Taiwan and the mainland should not remain militarily hostile toward each other. No issue between the two sides should lead to armed conflict. Rather, all issues should be resolved peacefully, and antagonism should be replaced by friendship. Then, we can devote our valuable resources to enhancing the well-being of the people on both Taiwan and the mainland.

Today, I solemnly declare that, if mainland leader Jiang Zemin takes concrete actions demonstrating a sincere desire for peace, I will work to move the cross-strait relationship into the medium-term phase of the Guidelines for National Unification (i.e., the phase of mutual trust and cooperation), after I am elected president. This initiative of mine will promote a "brotherly relationship of peaceful competition" between the two sides. It will include:

1. A visit to Taiwan by Mr. Wang Daohan can be the starting point for meetings between leaders from both sides to forge a consensus on peace in the Taiwan Strait. Summit meetings can then be arranged on a regular basis.

2. Official communication channels can be established on the basis of parity, so that problems can be directly and effectively resolved and cooperation initiated.

3. Based on the norms of the World Trade Organization, we can review cross-strait economic and trade relations, relax restrictions on investment and trade between the two sides, and hold consultations on direct postal, trade, and transportation links.

4. To expand the function of the existing offshore transshipment center, we can set up a special cross-strait economic and trade zone; give first priority to consultations on allowing trade and navigation contacts between the Kinmen and Matsu area and the mainland's coastal region; and set up a zone of peace embracing Kinmen, Matsu, and Fujian.

5. To assist each other in participating in international organizations and activities, both sides should actively conduct dialogue and work together, with a broad and forward-looking vision, to promote financial stability and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

6. The two sides should negotiate confidence-building measures in military affairs, promote exchanges of relevant military personnel, as well as announcements and verifications about military exercises, and military observers for such exercises. A hot line between the heads of both governments should also be set up.

7. The two sides should sign a peace agreement to formally end hostility and create a zone of peace in the Taiwan Strait, so as to ensure cross-strait prosperity and development, as well as the security of the Asia-Pacific region.

8. Both sides should promote exchanges on democratization and economic development to reduce civil rights and economic gaps between them for the welfare of people on the two sides of the Strait.

9. The two sides should promote cross-strait orderly exchanges and build various regimes for resolving issues resulting from exchanges through negotiation.

10. Both sides should safeguard the rights and interests of Taiwan businessmen on the Chinese mainland, show concern for their situations, and sign an investment guarantee agreement.

As we look into the distant future, only if the two sides help each other, can prospects for merging be effectively enhanced. As for the direction of merging, if the Beijing authorities give us a friendly response to my proposals mentioned above and do not insist on "one country, two systems" in advance, we are also willing to enlist the wisdom of all the world's Chinese people to consider a model for lasting political integration between the two sides.

For a government policy-maker, the top priority of government should be seeking peace, avoiding war, promoting cooperation, and creating a win-win situation between the two sides. Over a long period of time, I have participated in formulating and promoting mainland and foreign policies. I enthusiastically hope:

-- that "Chinese will not attack Chinese." Let the world see a Taiwan Strait that is free of roaring cannons and raging battles.

-- that "Chinese will help Chinese." Let the world see friendly exchanges, cooperation, sincere trust, and mutual benefit between the two sides.

With all my sincerity, patience, and effort, I hereby pledge myself to working hard towards fulfilling and expanding the rights and interests of the Republic of China, as well as the happiness and welfare of the people on both sides. The outcome will be in the best interests of the people of the two sides and a blessing for the Chinese nation.