27, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 12
E X T E N D E D I N T E R
V I E W W I T H C H E N
On China: "Passions Must Subside"
votes were still being tallied on Saturday when Chen Shui-bian spoke with
Time's East Asia correspondent Terry McCarthy. Excerpts from the interview:
Hartung for TIME
And now the hard part: Chen ponders the road ahead.
What will be your first act as President?
Chen Shui-bian: First I have to make four calls and see one person.
The four calls will be to the other candidates to express my appreciation
for the opportunity I had to mature and grow during the campaign period.
The one person I must see is Lee Teng-hui, since I am succeeding him as
President. He contributed a lot to Taiwan's democracy and progress, and
I will seek his advice on many matters of domestic and international affairs.
I think we should form a government that crosses ethnic and party lines,
and the DPP should build links to all the other parties. Now that the
election is over, passions must subside, especially in cross-Strait relations.
We would propose active conciliation to reduce tensions
TIME: What was the most memorable part of the campaign?
Chen: Initially, during the struggle inside my party for the nomination
and then the three-way race of candidates, some in the party didn't support
me and doubted my ability to win. But one year later the party came around
fully behind me. This has been a very complex and moving transition for
me. As I said in my speech [at the close of his campaign last Friday],
during all this campaigning and speaking my body has grown very tired.
But when I go home and see my wife and family, my heart is not tired.
All my supporters warm my heart and give me great strength and encouragement.
TIME: How did you feel at your last rally with those members of
the Kaohsiung Eight (pro-democracy protesters who were arrested in Kaohsiung
and jailed in 1979 in a crackdown by the KMT that led to even greater
momentum for democracy and ultimately the founding of Chen's party) behind
you on stage?
Chen: I sincerely appreciate the support and encouragement of those
leaders of democracy. They are passing the torch in the fight for democracy
to the younger generation. We are opening a new era in Taiwan's democracy,
but we must not forget the efforts of those in the past. It was not just
me who won the election: it was a joint effort by the whole DPP. This is
the greatest victory of Taiwan's democracy movement. You mentioned the Kaohsiung
Eight--among them was Huang Hsin-chie, their leader and the founder of our
party. Unfortunately he passed away, but I think that now the election is
over I will visit his grave to pay my respects--we know that he is watching
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How will you reassure Taiwan and the rest of the world that there will
not be war in the Taiwan Strait?
edition's table of contents
Chen: First of all, we will build a cross-party coalition to deal
with the very difficult issue of cross-Strait relations. I will not even
wait for the inauguration [on May 20] but start right away because this
is such an important issue. Without a cross-party consensus behind me,
it would be very difficult to proceed. Second, although I am proud to
be a member of the DPP, national interests must come before party and
personal interests. I will keep a clear line between party and state interests.
I would like to visit the United States, Japan and possibly Singapore
and other concerned states to communicate with them on security issues.
And I hope before May 20 to make a goodwill visit to China. On cross-Strait
relations, I will invite [Nobel Prize winner] Dr. Lee Yuan-tseh to lead
a group of consultants, and I will invite experts like [chief cross-Strait
negotiator] Koo Chen-fu, who have been working on this area in the past.
TIME: Is this a new era for Taiwan?
Chen: In this election we chose a new future, an end to the 55-year
monopoly on power by the KMT. It is Taiwan's first handover of power,
and it is a consolidation of Taiwan's democracy. The U.S. had its first
handover of power 200 years ago. We are coming later, but we feel this
moment is truly historic. We will complete Taiwan's first peaceful transition
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