In his Lunar New Year remarks, Chen said the time was ripe to consider scrapping the National Unification Council (NUC) and guidelines, seek UN membership under the name "Taiwan" and work toward a referendum on a new Constitution. Those comments caused an uproar in Washington, which warned Chen not to alter the "status quo" and reminded him of his inaugural pledges in 2000 and 2004, which include a promise that abolishing the council and guidelines would "not be an issue."
These perceptive remarks from a local scholar in the foregoing article make the point:
"The more Taiwan is regarded as causing tensions, the more the US intervenes in Taiwan's internal affairs. Once Taiwan is blamed for causing the tensions, it gives China the opportunity to ask the US to say something harmful to Taiwan's national interests," he said.
Chao took as an example the US Department of State's concern over the implementation of cross-strait transportation and communication links, in a Jan. 30 press release.
"From the press release, it seemed [that the US believes] it is Taipei and not Beijing which has no intention of improving cross-strait relations," Chao said.
This is a neat illustration of a constant problem -- that Taiwan cannot make commonsense moves -- even to the point of abolishing a minor cross-strait relations organ that the pan-Blues themselves froze years ago -- without the US having a tizzy, and without it painting Taiwan as the troublemaker. The problem here does not lie with Taiwan, but with the astounding US overreaction, an indication of very poor management and understanding of the situation. Did no one at State do the slightest background research on what the current state of the NUC is? Moreover, even if Taiwan abolishes the NUC now, there is nothing to stop Ma Ying-jeou or some other Blue politician from reviving it when he becomes President. It's only a bureaucratic organ.
A decade ago the then-KMT government downgraded the national assembly and the provincial government, without much of a US reaction. Both of those were far more important, both practically and symbolically, than this minor commission that the pro-China parties themselves froze.
This news also comes at a time when there is bipartisan support for ending the Taiwan provincial government, and perhaps the Fujian provincial government as well.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday called for the Taiwan and Fujian provincial governments to be abolished.
"Both the ruling and opposition parties agree that there is no need for the Taiwan Provincial Government to exist. We hope that they would support its abolition, as well as abolishing the Fujian Provincial Government so that Kinmen and Matsu will fall under the direct supervision of the central government," DPP caucus whip Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.
The Constitution stipulates that provincial governments and two special municipalities, Taipei and Kaohsiung cities, are one level higher than county and city governments.
If the legislature moves to abolish these two governments, one can only hope that the US will have a more sensible, and muted, reaction.
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