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SEPTEMBER 1 , 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 34 | SEARCH ASIAWEEK

'Let's Meet, not Holler'
So says the DPP chief about China

ALSO:
The 100-Day Itch:
Why Chen Shui-bian's honeymoon as president is over, and what he mu st do to restore credibility
Politics of Compromise:
Will Chen break promises?
It's Business as Usual: Taiwan's China investments are growing

Inside the Democratic Progressive Party, one of President Chen Shui-bian's enduring rivals is Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, 54. Both politicians graduated at the top of their class from National Taiwan University's law school and founded successful law practices before winning seats on Taipei's city council. Both also fought for the DPP's nomination for the Taipei mayoral race in 1994. Chen won that contest and later the mayor's office, while Hsieh went on to be the mayor of Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second-largest city. In July, he added another powerful post to his portfolio: the DPP's chairmanship. Recently, Hsieh was asked by officials of Xiamen in China's Fujian province to visit that city. In return, he invited them to Kaohsiung. But what would have been an unprecedented cross-strait initiative was crushed when Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council ruled that Hsieh did not have the authority to represent the island. DPP insiders say that Chen nixed the visits because he did not want to be upstaged by his old rival. In an interview with Senior Correspondent Allen T. Cheng, Hsieh played down any feud, even defending the president.

How is President Chen doing?
He has been doing an outstanding job. [Ex-president] Lee Teng-hui's "two-states theory" created unnecessary tension [with China]. After his victory, Chen has softened Taiwan's stance. Cross-strait relations have improved. The president is also attacking [corruption] and addressing social welfare needs. This impresses society.

And his cross-strait initiatives?
His direction is correct. In fact, I believe we can go even faster. Some people believe President Chen is moving too fast. But the DPP is now the ruling party — we must move forward quickly. There must be more exchanges at all levels of government and society. There must be more city-to-city exchanges. We should not always leave the decision-making to top-level officials. They are too conservative. The Mainland Affairs Council is still KMT-dominated. They haven't changed.

The DPP has postponed the decision to amend or get rid of the party plank to seek "Taiwan independence." Why?
This is a non-issue. President Chen already has said that he won't declare independence or change the name of Taiwan. We as a party resolved that since Taiwan already is an "independent, sovereign state," we therefore need not change our constitution or our name, the Republic of China, just preserve the status quo. The president's policies follow our party's principle.

What about the "one-China" issue?
We don't refer to this because it is a play on words. Our premise is Taiwan is not part of the People's Republic of China. An independent Republic of China on Taiwan can discuss anything with the People's Republic of China, whether a federation or a future "one China." But we cannot go on the premise that "one China" is the People's Republic of China . . . If China's system changes, then the views of the people on Taiwan will change too. Of course we hope for peace. If we have peace, both sides can earn more money. We all like to earn money.

Do you still hope to go to Xiamen?

I still hope to go. Meeting is better than hollering at each other through the media. However, as chairman of the ruling party, I can't go against the government's wish. But I do wish the government would be more open.

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