Taiwan, mainland are two nations: Chen

Hsieh Kuo-lien,The China Post

President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday that “Taiwan and China are two nations,” a risky statement bound to anger Beijing. Chen said, “Taiwan is our country. Our country should neither be bullied nor regarded as a local government. “Taiwan is neither a part of ‘other people’s country,’ nor their local government. Taiwan will never be the second Hong Kong or the second Macau, because Taiwan is a sovereign state. “As a result, Taiwan and the nation on the other side of the Taiwan strait, China, are two nations. Each side is a nation. We have to be very clear about the distinction,” the president said. Chen, sitting in the Presidential Office, made the remarks via a video conference while addressing the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations, which is in Tokyo for its 29th annual meeting. He told the pro-independence Taiwan people in Japan that “China has never ceased threatening to use force against Taiwan. China assails us diplomatically in the international community. Those moves have hurt the feelings of the Taiwan people (toward China).” The president went on to say, “It is impossible for us to accept China’s ‘One China Principle’ or ‘One Country, Two Systems” scheme, as it will alter our status quo.” Beijing made the “One Country, Two System” plan in the late 1980s. The system claims that Taiwan will still enjoy partial sovereignty following an unification. “We will never accept their plans, because Taiwan’s future should never be decided by another nation, another government, another political party or an individual.” “Only the 23 million people of Taiwan have the right to make a decision on Taiwan’s future and destiny,” he added. Push for referendum As to the method to make the decision, the president suggested that the final call be made through a referendum. He also expressed his support for referendum legislation that would allow a vote on the independence issue. Please see CHEN on page

“To make a decision through a referendum is a fundamental human right.” Chen went on to tell the pro-independence group that “it (holding the referendum) is a fundamental human right of the 23 million people. The right should neither be deprived nor be restricted (by China).” “I am sincerely urging and encouraging the Taiwan people to think about the importance and urgency of enacting a law for referendums.” Such comments might drastically raise tensions in Taiwan Strait, as the mainland considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has pledged to unify the country, by force if necessary.

Taiwan’s path

“A-bian (Chen’s nickname) has said that we have to ponder Taiwan’s path and Taiwan’s future. What is our path? It’s quite simple and clear. To take our path means that Taiwan should take the path of democracy, liberty, human rights and peace,” the president said. Chen stood up after addressing the teleconference, clenched his fist and shouted repeatedly, “Taiwan stands up” and “Taiwan takes its own path.”

Those attending the teleconference exchanged their points of view on methods to cultivate Taiwan consciousness and self-awareness.

The president, who was sworn in as chairman of the ruling Democratic Progress Party last month, expressed his overt support for an independent Taiwan in the speech, though he avoided using the politically sensitive term “independence.” It was apparently Chen’s toughest remarks against mainland China since he took office in May 2000, but Beijing had not yet commented on Chen’s statement as of press time. Chen’s comments were similar to a statement made by former President Lee Teng-hui three years ago. In July 1999, Lee said that Taiwan and the mainland have a “special state-to-state” relationship, which immediately angered the mainland. Lee’s statement slowed progress towards the improvement of cross-strait relations after it triggered a round of intense saber rattling.