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Home >> China
UPDATED: 08:37, April 30, 2005
Feature: Lien Chan takes historical bus to make "journey of peace"
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He does not expect to push the history, it is history that brings him to blaze a potentially right trail.

Lien Chan, chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) Party, has said he is now stepping on a "historical bus" to embark on a " journey of peace" to the mainland, which is the first ever trip made by a KMT top leader since 1949 when the party lost a war to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and fled to Taiwan.

Thunderous applause welcomed Lien and his KMT delegation when they stepped into the conference hall of Beijing University, reputed as the cradle for China's would-be social elites where many VIP guests, including former US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin, had delivered speeches.

In front of the 800-strong audience Friday morning at the prestigious university, also the alma mater of Lien's 96-year-old mother, Lien said, "You can not push history, while success can only be made when you take concrete steps."

"Some people in Taiwan viewed my visit being aimed at the so- called third cooperation between the KMT and the CPC to contain Taiwan, or rather contain 'Taiwan independence," said the man who steers the most powerful opposition party in Taiwan.

A latest poll in Taiwan showed that 66 percent of the surveyed support reconciliation and dialogue across the Straits, while about 30 percent say Lien's trip would impossibly lead to any substantial results.

"We're paving the way and building a bridge to reconciliation and cooperation, instead of confrontation or conflict," Lien said, referring to his eight-day mainland trip, which was warmed up by KMT Vice-Chairman Chiang Pin-kung who led an "ice-breaking trip" in March.

Playing down the old scores between the KMT and the CPC, Lien said both parties are striving for the people's welfare and benefit despite the different routes they've chosen.

"We should put the people first and give priority to the people 's well-being," Lien said. "This is supported by all Chinese, including 23 million residents in Taiwan and 1.3 billion people in the mainland."

The 68-year-old professor-turned-politician labeled intransigence of reconciliation as "Cold War mentality".

"Why couldn't we shelve the past while creating a better future? Why couldn't we proceed from mutual goodwill and care people's ultimate interest?" he asked.

Lien also snubbed the policy of "desinification", which is heatedly advocated by some political camps in Taiwan with an eye to sever ties between the mainland and Taiwan.

It's "a pity" that some politicians in Taiwan have been beating the drum for such "an extreme idea", Lien said.

"I'm sure that the majority of Taiwan people will not take on their shoes," said Lien, who described the efforts for " desinification" as something "unthinkable" both to the people on the mainland and to most of the Taiwan residents.

He said that sticking to peace and achieving a win-win future are a historical trend and the shared outcry of the people across the Taiwan Straits.

"The historical trend and common aspiration of the people encouraged us to shoulder the historical responsibility," he said.

Remembering Chiang Ching-kuo and Deng Xiaoping as two " prominent statesmen", Lien said that both sides across the Straits need far-sighted statesmen to follow the historical trend at modern times.

Lien and his delegation began their landmark trip with their Tuesday arrival in east China's Nanjing City, which was capital of China under the rule of the KMT between 1920s and 1940s.

After the trip to Beijing, Lien will also visit Xi'an, where he was born in August 1936, and Shanghai, the biggest financial and trade hub in the mainland.

Lien said he might go and look for some air-raid bunkers during his stay in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, which would make him recall the wartime hardship he had experienced when the Japanese troops invaded China and occupied much of the country in the 1930s to 40s.

During his childhood, Lien was often dragged by his mother into such bunkers to evade Japanese bombings. Lien and his family left the mainland for Taiwan in 1946 when the KMT and the CPC failed to negotiate a truce for the civil war.

Nearly six decades passed before Lien personally set foot again on the mainland soil. He said, "the greatest change is the overall change," when asked about his impressions of the mainland.

While Taiwan tries on the way for its second round of economic miracle, he said, the mainland is focusing itself on world-envying economic advancement.

"One plus one makes more than two," Lien said, "the common prosperity for all Chinese across the Straits is no longer an unattainable dream."

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