Lien Chan Speaks at the National Press Club
The USCPF acted as host and sponsor of Dr. Lien Chan, the Chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), on his October 21 visit Washington to meet with members of Congress and deliver a speech at the National Press Club. In the morning, Dr. Lien attended a breakfast to exchange views with members of Congress and their staff during a closed-door Congressional breakfast that included members of the House Taiwan Caucus. Senators Daniel Akaka, Max Baucus, Christopher Bond, Lincoln Chafee, Byron Dorgan, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Hagel, Trent Lott, Mitch McConnell, John D. Rockefeller IV and Congressman Steve Chabot acted as co-hosts for the event. In order to foster a more collegial atmosphere, the event was closed to the media, excepting those traveling with Dr. Lien. Senator Christopher Bond and Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. introduced Dr. Lien. Senator Bond then spoke warmly about his own experiences with Taiwan and the common bonds he shared with Dr. Lien. Senator Bond expressed his best wishes for Dr. Lien in the upcoming March 2004 presidential election, where Dr. Lien is the leading candidate, and for the future of US-Taiwan relations.
Later that same afternoon, Dr. Lien addressed a crowd of more than one hundred comprising leaders in the academic, business, government and media arenas. Dr. Lien delivered a speech entitled Where Do We Stand ?Cross-Strait Relations in Taiwan's 2004 Election. In his speech, Dr. Lien discussed the changing nature of the KMT (which he chairs) and the new mandate it faces in the upcoming 2004 election. He referenced the fact that, although together KMT candidates won 60 percent of the vote in the 2000 election, neither candidate was strong enough on his own to top Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Shui-bien. Noting that "a house divided against itself cannot stand", Dr. Lien expressed hope for the newly formed coalition between the KMT and the People First Party (PFP).
Dr. Lien also spent time dispelling the myth that the KMT is pro-China, explicitly rejecting that label. In fact, Dr. Lien noted, his party takes no interest whatsoever in the reunification/independence issue, preferring that both Taiwan and the PRC pursue a path of parallel development along the Taiwan Strait. In order to promote this parallel development strategy, Dr. Lien said it was critical to establish direct transportation links between Taiwan and Mainland China. Nothing is gained but increased costs, he said, when both Taiwanese and Chinese are forced to route their shipments through "third-party" ports in Hong Kong and Macao. Dr. Lien promised his attitude toward China would be firmly rational and his administration would be focused on reinvigorating the domestic economy and bringing stability back to Taiwan.
After his prepared remarks, Dr. Lien took questions from the audience, speaking eloquently on a wide range of subjects. One interesting response was to a question about China's recent manned space mission. While admitting it was a great feat, Dr. Lien quipped that, in his opinion, it takes more than sending a man into space to be a true superpower.