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Blue camp proves it's China's pawn
Paul Lin

The high-profile treatment President Chen Shui-bian received during his stopover in the US en route to Panama indicates that Taiwan's effort to walk out and join the international community has yielded good results, exciting those who love Taiwan. But this has trampled on the toes of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP), which have unthinkably engaged in a barrage of criticism. They have not only launched a tirade against the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but also shifted their anger to the US and stirred up a new wave of anti-US sentiment.

Washington been low-key in responding to Chen's transit diplomacy, emphasizing that it merely offered a "courteous reception" without going beyond the "one China" principle. This being the case, Beijing can do nothing about it. China is, as usual, respectful to the US and, moreover, has signed business contracts to keep the US on its side. Of course, this is no one-sided benefit since the commodities procured from the US are what Beijing desperately needs and have also paved the way for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to the US next month.

What Washington wants most from Beijing, however, is to let the yuan appreciate and to pressure North Korea to de-nuclearize. China will only present this "big gift" to the new US president after the election next year, rather than helping George W. Bush secure his re-election bid, in the same way as China is not willing to give any advantage to the Chen government to help him win a second term.

While extending courteous treatment to Taiwan, the US did the same to China. When retired Chinese vice premier Qian Qichen visited the US, Bush also received him in an unprecedented fashion.

We can get a glimpse of how the blue camp is hostile to the US from several facts.

First, while delivering a speech in Yunlin County on Nov. 9, PFP Chairman James Soong said a member of the Bush family claimed that he (or she) could help arrange a meeting with a member of the family for KMT Chairman Lien Chan in exchange for US$1 million. Soong demanded that Chen explain how much money he had forked over to meet with one of the Bushes.

Chen said that he didn't spend a cent. The corrupt method of Taiwanese businesspeople squandering money to secure a meeting with Beijing leaders and increase their own worth is prevalent in China. Soong's allegation was apparently aimed at smearing the US. If what he said is true, why didn't he reveal it sooner?

Second, on the legislative floor on Nov. 10, blue-camp schemer and independent Legislator Sisy Chen questioned the incident in which Yang Liu-sheng, a National Security Bureau (NSB) member stationed in the US, was kept by the CIA for a three-day investigation when the scandal related to a secret NSB account was revealed in Taiwan. NSB Vice Director Huang Lei denied her allegation.

Third, Sisy Chen, when analyzing Taiwan's presidential election and mapping out strategies for Lien and Soong on Nov. 13, denounced the US for playing with duplicitous tactics -- demanding that Soong and KMT Vice Chairman Wang Jin-pyng fend off the DPP's plan to hold a referendum, while also using arms brokers to deal with President Chen. As a result, Chen Shui-bian's trip to the US was a success while the issue of referendums has become a curse for the blue camp.

Sisy Chen's statement is a non sequitur. Who from the US required Soong and Wang to act as shields? Washington merely expressed its concern over the issue of referendums. Its stance remains unchanged. Did the blue camp create the rumor itself? It is certainly low-class to make unfounded counter-charges.

It is evident that the US has never embarrassed Taiwan's president but has dealt with the Taiwan issue based on the Taiwan Relations Act. It is not possible to destroy the cooperation forged between the two democracies, which share basic values, even if misunderstandings or frictions occasionally emerge.

The blue camp, however, keeps sowing discord between Taiwan and the US, attacks US anti-terrorism policies and lambastes Taiwan's friendly policies toward the US as "ass-kissing." and "making itself a pawn of the US." The US has, as a result, realized that the blue camp is actually China's pawn.

Under the premise of opposing terrorism and supporting democracy and freedom, there is still much room for Taiwan to develop its relations with the US. As China is developing free trade relations with other nations to marginalize Taiwan and isolate the US, it is necessary for Taiwan to develop free trade relations with the US. Based on WTO principles, Taiwan should choose items with the least impact on the domestic economy and adopt some compensation measures before opening them up to the US in exchange for more US goodwill.

This can help fight China's besiegement policy as well as nullify the blue camp's trick of using economic issues to attack the ruling DPP.

Paul Lin is a political commentator based in New York.

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