Taiwan PM labels Lien’s pledges to China ‘illegal’

Associated Press

Taipei, April 30:

Taiwan’s premier said today opposition leader Lien Chan made illegal pledges during a meeting with China’s president — the highest-level contact since the Communists and Nationalists split during a civil war nearly six decades ago. In talks in Beijing yesterday, Lien and Chinese president Hu Jintao said they would promote an end to cross-strait hostilities and seek closer economic ties. Premier Frank Hsieh said today it was up to the government to negotiate deals with China, not opposition groups. “You can’t have the opposition going to negotiate, that’s not defensible from a legal standpoint.” Other government officials have also criticised the meeting, calling Beijing insincere and saying the talks would not improve frosty relations. Hsieh also had a dig at how the Nationalist-led opposition — which holds a majority in Taiwan’s Parliament — obstructs government proposals.

“I envy the Communist Party — in 15 minutes they can reach a consensus. But here at the legislature, public works budgets still haven’t been passed after 15 months.” In a speech at Peking University yesterday, Lien voiced concerns that Taiwan’s democracy could “recede” and accused the island’s judiciary of a lack of impartiality. Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said Lien’s comments were ill-placed. However, Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou, a vice-chairman of the Nationalist party, reproached Taiwan’s government for its rigid attitude. Ma also rejected suggestions that Lien was acting illegally in his talks with Beijing. “Lien Chan and Hu Jintao didn’t sign any agreement. They only expressed their common views through a news communique.”