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Anhonestmistake

Everybody is complaining about Taiwan’s erratic press nowadays, but we take comfort in finding the venerated Reuters is mistake-prone, when it comes to the coverage of complicated relations between Taiwan and China.In a dispatch from Beijing, the British news agency reported China’s reaction to a “normal country resolution” by the Democratic Progressive Party at the end of last month.It certainly was an honest mistake to report the resolution as an amendment to the constitution, which is unlikely to be adopted by the Legislative Yuan where the opposition has a paper-thin majority.

The fact is that the resolution, which the Reuters quoted a Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman in Beijing as condemning, is to be written into the “constitution” – or to be more exact, the charter – of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party when it holds a national congress towards the end of this month.The resolution is considered in China as a proclamation of de jure independence for Taiwan.It has nothing to do with the Constitution of the Republic of China which was promulgated in Nanjing on January 1, 1947, and went into force as from December 25 of the same year.Chiang Kai-shek was elected president in March 1948 in accordance with that Constitution, which has had a number of amendments attached over the past 16 years.

As a matter of fact, Beijing’s official reaction is nothing but a dog-bite-dog news story that warrants no coverage.It would be a really eye-catching story if the spokesman approved of the DPP resolution, of course.But he can only chant his unchanging mantra against the independence-leaning governing party.

In fact, President Chen Shui-bian has a constitution ready to be adopted for Taiwan.What he calls the “second republic” constitution is expected to give Taiwan a new national identity before he steps down on May 20 next year.As the new constitution has to be passed first by the nation’s highest legislative organ by a three-fourths majority vote, which he can never hope to muster, the president is planning an end run to have it adopted by referendum.Whether he may succeed remains to be seen.


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