TAICHUNG, Taiwan, The China Post Staff
President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday Taiwan could learn from the successful integration of the European Union when handling relations with China, pointing to how the union’s trade and economic integration took place before other issues.
Speaking to a visiting member of the French National Assembly, Alain Madelin, at the Presidential Office Chen mentioned that France had made the greatest contribution towards the integration of the European Union.
“The European Union’s successful experience of integration would be of great value as a reference for the public or for something for everyone to consider, particularly in the way Taiwan handles cross-strait relations” Chen said.
Chen said the European Union’s successful integration was founded on several important principles, including peace, equality and member states choosing to join of their own free will without the use of military force. He also said the European bloc’s process of integration first began with trade and economic integration. “This process and these principles are all valuable as a reference for Taiwan,” Chen said.
Chen described how former French President General de Gaulle initiated the drafting of a new constitution for the Fifth French Republic almost 50 years ago, adopting a semi-presidential system, with its national leaders a president and prime minister, to stabilize French politics. “Although Taiwan tries to imitate a semi-presidential system, the result does not resemble this system — but it also does not resemble a presidential system or cabinet government,” Chen told the French politician, described by local media as a political heavyweight close to French President Jacques Chirac. “This is the reason why Taiwan must take on the great task of constitutional re-engineering,” the president said. While Chen made reference to former French President de Gaulle’s creation of a Fifth French Republic, he did not mention yesterday the fact that de Gaulle had his new constitution adopted by a national referendum in September 1958. Please see EU on page
A Chinese-language report from the semi-official Central News Agency described Madelin as a political strongman who had been a politician for around 26 years where he served as a French minister three times and twice as a member of the European parliament.
In an interview with CNA, Madelin said he talked privately with Chen about international politics, economics and the EU’s integration and said diplomatic protocol would not allow him to reveal the fine details.
He said he was impressed with Taiwan’s democratization and advanced economy and said he disagreed with talk in the EU to lift an embargo on arms sales to China. The French politician said while Chirac was his good friend, he held different opinions from the French president on some aspects of international politics and said he did not agree with France’s push for the EU to lift the embargo. He jokingly said that if this happened, France could sell China rockets, which would then be used to take out Taiwan’s French-made Mirage jet fighters.
He said France hoped that further economic development in China would bring more contact with Western society which in turn would lead the superpower to democracy. He said cross-strait tensions would only be resolved when China democratized.
Madelin said the world did not want to see a military clash between Taiwan and China as economic relations between countries were becoming closer and closer and a war in the Taiwan strait would deal a blow to the global economy. The international community was looking at ways to lower Chinese nationalism and maintain the status quo in the Taiwan strait, he said. France wants to play a greater role in the EU’s formation of foreign policy, the French politician said, and he wanted to visit various Taiwanese ministers to suggest ways in which links with the European parliament could be improved.