Chairman Wu Po-hsiung: Please give Chairman Hu Jintao the Following Message
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, China)
May 22, 2008
Next week, at the invitation of Hu Jintao, Wu Po-hsiung will visit the mainland. We would like to ask Chairman Wu to convey a message to Chairman Hu. That message is: The two sides cannot avoid earthquakes, but the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can avoid war.
The Great Sichuan Earthquake created an unexpected climate of reconciliation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. This climate of reconciliation grew from a spontaneous reaction on the part of the public on Taiwan. Wang Yung-ching started the ball rolling by donating 100 million NT. This set the tone for the public's perception of the Sichuan earthquake and its subsequent response. The DPP government, not wanting to find itself behind the curve of mainstream public opinion, promptly announced a 2 billion NT disaster relief program. This was followed by humanitarian charter flights between the two sides, waves of volunteers, and large quantities of relief supplies rushed to disaster areas. A major earthquake brought down all kinds of barriers between the two sides, liberating everyone from psychological and physical barriers built up over the years. Liberated psychologically, people on Taiwan were free to express their heartfelt concern for mainland quake victims. Conversely, people on the mainland were free to express their gratitude and appreciation for their Taiwan compatriots' compassion and goodwill. Liberated physically, humanitarian charter flights were able to shuttle back and forth freely, exposing the folly of previously imposed political shackles.
The earthquake stimulated cross-strait dialogue at two levels. First, the humanitarian level. In essence, the living and dead from the September 21, 1999 Taiwan Earthquake spoke with the living and dead from the May 12, 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. The deceased in Taiwan and in Sichuan bled the same blood. The survivors in Taiwan and Sichuan shed the same tears. Second, the political level. The heartfelt concern of the public on Taiwan for mainland quake victims unconsciously repaired years of trauma to cross-strait political relations. People on Taiwan blazed a trail for both governments. Fortunately both governments elected to make the most of the opportunity that presented itself. They used earthquake efforts to raise cross-strait relations to a new level.
The Wu/Hu Conference will debut under these circumstances. Wu Poh-hsiung will express sympathy for mainland quake victims on behalf of the Taiwan public. Hu Jintao will express gratitude to the Taiwan public for its generosity on behalf of mainland quake victims. This meeting will be the first between these two chairmen. As chairmen of their respective ruling parties, they must remind each other to heed the common aspirations of people on both sides of the strait. An earthquake may be an extraordinary event. But in a sense it is merely a magnified version of the hardships people every day. An event such as an earthquake reminds political leaders about the nature of their responsibilities. When Hu Jintao and Wu Po-hsiung meet and discuss the earthquake, they must remind each other to live up the expectations of the people.
The theme of the Wu/Hu Conference will of course be cross-strait relations. Both sides must treasure the friendly cross-strait atmosphere created by the earthquake. They must offer concrete policy prescriptions in response to public expectations. Official gestures of goodwill will encourage and sustain friendly people-to-people relations, creating a virtuous circle. Friendly cross-strait people-to-people relations is a precious commodity. The atmosphere of compassion and mutual concern that emerged as a result of the earthquake must be nurtured by leaders on both sides of the strait. It must become an integral part of the framework for cross-strait relations.
In terms of cross-strait relations, the lesson the earthquake offers authorities on both sides is that peaceful cross-strait relations cannot be achieved by means of war. The lives taken by the earthquake have cut people to the quick. If one day the two sides are driven by their leaders to shoot at each other, that would be an offense to god and man. The authorities and the public on Taiwan must remain confident in their ability to persuade the public on the mainland to cherish and preserve Taiwan's democracy and way of life. They must persuade the public on the mainland to soften their leaders' attitudes toward Taiwan. As a previous editorial in this newspaper stated, when mainland authorities "pin their hopes on the people of Taiwan," they must consider the people of Taiwan's hopes.
Natural disasters are unavoidable. The two sides of the strait cannot avoid earthquakes. But if people on both sides of the strait can demonstrate the kind of concern for each other they did during the Sichuan Earthquake, they are already blood brothers. Man-made disasters can be avoided. The two sides can avoid war. If an earthquake can inspire people to shed the same tears, might not an earthquake prevent people from shedding each others' blood?
We would like to ask Chairman Wu to carry a message to Chairman Hu. That message is: The two sides cannot avoid earthquakes, but the two sides can avoid war.
2008.05.22 02:59 am