A few days ago I criticized Chen Shui-bian for not clarifying the status of his inauguration promises (the ‘4 noes and 1 without’). He has now done so:
In his inaugural address in 2000, Chen pledged not to abolish the National Reunification Council and the National Unification Guidelines; not to declare independence; not to change Taiwan’s official name; not to push inclusion of the so-called state-to-state description of Taiwan-China relations in the Constitution; and not to promote a referendum to change the status quo in respect of the question of independence or unification.
However, he said in the interview that the precondition for his five pledges has already disappeared.
“The precondition was that ‘as long as China had no intention of using military force against Taiwan,’” Chen said. “However, China’s intention to invade Taiwan is visible now.“
Glad we’ve got that clear then.
Update (March 6th): Or so you would think. A day after this interview is published we have Tsai Ing-wen (the vice-premier of Taiwan) saying this:
Touching on President Chen Shui-bian’s plan to write a “viable, timely and relevant” new constitution for Taiwan, Tsai said Chen would strictly follow the existing provisions in carrying out his constitutional re-engineering project and would not violate his “five no” promises which include no declaration of independence and no change to the national title.
Government by contradiction.
Update (March 8th): The original interview which Chen’s quotes come from is available here. Chen doesn’t explicitly say his promises no longer apply – but that’s just to give himself a tiny figleaf of deniability. For all intents, the “4 Noes, 1 without” have now been replaced by “not changing the status quo” (whatever that means). Interestingly, Chen also said this (twice) about constitutional reform:
We also affirm that any sovereignty issue that strays from constitutional proceedings not only fails to contribute to maintaining the status quo, but also should be disregarded.