HONG KONG -- When Chen Shui-bian ran for president of Taiwan more than two years ago, he distanced himself from his political party, the proindependence Democratic Progressive Party, promising he would be president of all the people of the island, regardless of political affiliation. But on July 21, President Chen was sworn in as party chairman.

Of course, political leaders often break promises made during election campaigns, but it is particularly difficult for Chen to wear two hats -- that of state president and party chief -- because his party's political platform calls for the overthrow of the state that he now heads. The DPP platform calls for setting up an independent Republic of Taiwan to replace the Republic of China.

This provision is why China refuses to have any dealings with the party, as China is committed to eventual reunification with Taiwan. This being the case, Chen's repeated offers of talks with China -- including sending a DPP delegation to the mainland for talks -- have fallen on deaf ears.