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Chen chalks up series of diplomatic successes
Paul Lin

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President Chen Shui-bian's visit to Panama and the US brought several diplomatic breakthroughs.

First, members of the House of Representatives met Chen at the airport.

Second, when receiving the award from the International League for Human Rights, Chen gave a speech declaring his political opinions. This was previously not allowed.

Third, Chen mentioned the writing of a new constitution in his speech. This shows that the US understands the direction of Taiwan's political development and puts to rest the rumor spread by pro-unificationists in China and Taiwan that Chen is a troublemaker.

Fourth, American Institute in Taiwan Chairwoman Therese Shaheen said US President George W. Bush is Taiwan's "guardian angel." There are also rumors that Bush's younger brother has met secretly with Chen.

Fifth, arriving at his New York hotel, Chen was allowed to cross the road to shake hands with people waiting to welcome him. In the past, he was only allowed to wave at them.

Sixth, at the 100th anniversary of the founding of Panama, Chen had two "chance" encounters with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, showing that the US acknowledges the existence of Taiwan as a nation.

Seventh, when leaving Alaska and the US, Shaheen saw Chen off at the airport, an improvement compared to the lack of a reception on his arrival in New York.

These breakthroughs have excited the public and strengthened the US-Taiwan friendship. They have also encouraged the global development of democracy. China is afraid to embarrass the US and only had its Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing inquire about the situation.

Surprisingly, however, Taiwan's pro-unification politicians, led by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party Chairman James Soong, are recklessly attacking the government's diplomatic efforts. Before Chen's visit, without caring for the rights Taiwan should enjoy as an independent country, they have been doing what China cannot -- in their desperation, they are destroying the Taiwan First concept.

They attack the government's diplomatic efforts. They also attack Shaheen and other US officials and continue to create problems in the legislature for Taiwanese arms purchases from the US. When Lien went to Washington two weeks ago, he said that once he is president, he will purchase US arms and military equipment to protect Taiwan in an attempt at winning US support. Now he opposes such purchases, concurring with China's repeated requests for an end to US arms sales to Taiwan. Prior to these incidents, blue-camp politicians blamed the government for relying on the US using the same language China has used to attack Taiwan. When China now avoids using such language in an attempt to trick the US, we instead hear it from the mouths of Taiwan's pro-unification politicians. They are playing a questionable political game, and it is not strange that the US is on its guard against them.

While Chen's performance during his foreign visit has won the public's approval, Lien's and Soong's behavior has taught the public that they place the interest of their parties ahead of the nation's interests, and their own power above the nation's. This is why a China Times poll last week for the first time showed Chen ahead of Lien in the upcoming presidential election. This is a noteworthy change.

We should also pay attention to China's response. As this is happening, Soong suddenly has to go on a secret visit to Malaysia. I really can't understand what secrets there are in Malaysia. Is China once again providing open assistance to the blue camp?

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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