Opposition Kuomintang's presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) criticized President Chen following the public denouncement of Taiwan's U.N. referendum plan by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Ma said Chen lost the trust of the U.S. government and that his handling of Taiwan-U.S. diplomacy has been harmful to Taiwan.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated in a press conference held in Washington, D.C. the U.S. government's opposition to the referendum.
When Ma was asked to comment on Chen's reaction to Rice's remark, he said that Chen was simply blaming China for provoking Taiwan. Ma said Chen's view that China is solely responsible for cross-strait tensions will only further deteriorate Tawian-U.S. relations.
DPP's presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said the referendum initiative was backed up by the endorsement of two million people, and it would not be stopped.
"It is often the case that a great thing is not be easy (to achieve). This is a great test of our people's determination and confidence," said Hsieh.
Hsieh also criticized Ma for echoing China's opposition to Taiwan's U.N. bid.
"It is sad that Ma did not speak up for Taiwan," said Hsieh. "Is attempting to join the U.N. really such a provocative gesture? If so, then tell me why most of the world's nations have joined the U.N.," he added.
An Academia Sinica (中央研究院) researcher said yesterday that he believes the United States' reiteration of its opposition to Taiwan's planned U.N. referendum is aimed at discouraging the Taiwanese people from passing the referendum.
Washington regards the holding of the referendum as a move that may change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, said Lin Cheng-yi (林正義) of the Academia Sinica Institute of European and American Studies in a Central News Agency interview.
Lin said he thinks Rice made the statement to comfort China in an attempt to discourage the latter from overreacting to the referendum and from putting forth policies that will change the state quo.
Criticizing Rice for only highlighting the "provocative" part of the referendum, Lin suggested Washington should more frequently make public its intentions and plans to help Taiwan join international organizations as part of efforts to help realize the Taiwan people's greatest wish.
Speaking on the current Taiwan-U.S. ties, Lin said that he thinks that relations between the two countries are now at a "cold and deadlocked" stage and that there will be no breakthrough until the summer in 2009, when a new U.S. president will be in office.
The scholar also said he believes that until next March when the Taiwan people elect a new president, Washington will focus all its attention on issues concerning Taiwan's U.N. bid, cross-strait ties, and Taiwan's upcoming legislative elections slated for January 12.
Meanwhile, Lai I-chung, an executive member of Taiwan Thinktank, an independent, nonprofit public policy research organization, said he suspects that Washington's use of a high-level official to voice its opposition to the referendum was the result of deal with Beijing in which the latter promised to cooperate on the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons threat.
Lai told the Central News Agency that he believes the word "provocative" in Rice's statement was used to "comfort" China in an attempt to prevent the communist regime from taking more "provocative" action to change the state quo in the strait.