Chen rejects ‘one China’ as precondition for talks

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Chen Shui-bian has rejected Beijing’s latest overture, reiterating that accepting a “one-China” framework for cross-strait relations would be tantamount to Taiwan’s surrender. Chen made the remarks during an interview in Taipei Thursday with the New York Times, which asked for comments on President Hu Jintao’s latest overture. Hu, addressing the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China Monday, called for the formation of a framework for peaceful development of cross-strait relations “on the basis of the one China principle.”

His talk has been read as a proposal for a peace pact between Taipei and Beijing.

But Chen told the New York Times that although Taiwan has always welcomed the idea of signing a peace accord with China, it rejects any preconditions or framework, or any foregone conclusions before the talks start. “We are even more opposed to missile threats or the use of non-peaceful means or military power to force any party into signing a peace accord,” Chen said during the interview. The Presidential Office released a transcript of the interview yesterday.

The president instead laid down three conditions for cross-strait peace talks to be possible. China must openly renounce the use of force against Taiwan, repeal its anti-secession law targeting the island, and give up the “one China” framework, Chen said.

Taiwan is an independent nation, and accepting the one China principle “would spell the end of Taiwan as an independent, sovereign country,” he said.

Taiwan, under the rule of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, has been trying to get international recognition as a sovereign nation. Its latest move is a plan to hold a referendum on whether the country should use the name “Taiwan” to apply for U.N. membership — which has already provoked a warning from Washington, which sees the move as an attempt to change the cross-strait status quo. But Chen reiterated that such a referendum does not involve changing the country’s official name nor breaking his “four noes” pledges to the United States — which are promises that he will not change Taiwan’s status quo. Although the referendum will not get Taiwan into the United Nations, it is the most direct and democratic way for the people of Taiwan to tell the world of their wish, Chen said.

“The point is that we want our collective voice to be heard by the whole world. The 23 million people of Taiwan will not be silenced just because of China’s military intimidation, its missiles pointed at use, its coercion and its threats,” he said.

Chen said U.N. membership would spur Taiwan’s economy, because it could then hold talks freely with other countries around the world for the signing of free trade agreements, and take part in all organizations under the U.N. umbrella, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.