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TAIWAN-U.S. CONSENSUS ON REFERENDUM ISSUE CAN BE REACHED: OFFICIAL

2004-01-07 21:28:15

    Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) A consensus on Taiwan's referendum issue between Taipei and Washington can be reached, an official of the Presidential Office said Wednesday.

    Chiou Yi-jen, secretary-general of the Presidential Office, said that there exist differences between Taipei and Washington on President Chen Shui-bian's plan to hold a "defensive referendum" March 20 alongside the presidential election and to write a new constitution for Taiwan by 2008.

    Noting that holding a referendum is a normal practice in a democratic nation, Chiou said that he sees no reason for the U.S. to oppose one in Taiwan.

    Furthermore, he went on, President Chen has promised that his referendum will not make any change to the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but will underline Beijing's military threat against Taiwan and cement the country's burgeoning democracy.

    A draft of the contents of the proposed referendum will be revealed by the end of this month, Chen's chief staff added.

    With regard to writing a new constitution for Taiwan, Chen's top aide explained that the president has mentioned 12 issues arising from the existing Republic of China Constitution which render the whole constitution impractical.

    Claiming that two-thirds of the articles of the existing Constitution are out of date and that the preceding government took 10 years and six tries to repair it, to the satisfaction of no one, Chen told a visiting delegation from the U.S. National Committee on U.S.-China Relations a day earlier that the only way to address the problem is to write a new constitution.

    The basic structure of the U.S. policy on its relations with the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will not be changed in the foreseeable future, although Washington has expressed concern over Taiwan's planned referendum, Chiou claimed.

    The U.S. policy, which is based on the three communiques with Beijing and the Taiwan Relations Act, has lasted for more than two decades, he stressed.

    Taiwan's plan to send a heavyweight delegation to the U.S. to explain its provisions on the referendum is based on the consideration that Washington still trusts President Chen and his administration, Chiou affirmed.

(By Huang Kwang-chun)

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