Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Chen Planning A Move?

"Within the DPP, I don't think there's any more room to go," said Hsiao Bi-khim, a Democratic Progressive legislator from Taipei. "The party at large is not willing to compromise as President Chen is personally. He wants to make a legacy, but he is operating under very, very constrained and difficult circumstances." (I'm pretty sure the Post reporter got it wrong - she's from Tainan. JD)

Analysts and party leaders say Chen's shift reflects his calculation that independence is a lost cause. Taiwanese increasingly eschew the idea of confrontation with China, and the Bush administration has chastised Chen for provoking the Beijing government, raising doubts about whether the United States would come to the island's aid in a war. That leaves Chen with only one way of securing a significant place in history: reaching out to China.

Very interesting things are going on these days, but it's not at all easy to know what to make of it all. Until very recently, I didn't put much credence in the Chen as Nixon goes to China idea. It seemed to me China put on a big public relations show without much substance, so Chen would make an empty counter - gesture of magninimity. This article, though, makes it seem quite credible that Chen is about to do something big, and substantive. I also suspected the friction between Chen and Lee might be a bit of a show, but it begins to appear there is a genuine rift between the two. The idea that Chen would speak so openly about his resentments toward Lee dovetails with the theory that he is planning a major demarche that would alienate Lee anyway. Talks? On what terms? Probably some kind of semantical formulation that would allow each side to give its own interpretation. It's hard to believe Chen would budge on the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty.