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REFERENDUM NOT ABOUT UNIFICATION VERSUS INDEPENDENCE: NSC OFFICIAL

2004-01-15 15:25:16

    Singapore, Jan. 14 (CNA) Taiwan's proposed referendum is purely a "peaceful" referendum and a manifestation of the Taiwan people's will, and has nothing to do with the unification versus independence issue, a senior National Security Council (NSC) official said in Singapore Wednesday.

    Antonio Chiang, deputy secretary-general of the NSC, made the remarks while explaining the Taiwan government's referendum plan to more than 50 local Chinese and Taiwanese leaders gathered at a dinner organized by the Singapore branch of the Global Alliance for Democracy and Peace.

    Chiang, at the head of a three-member delegation aimed at explaining President Chen Shui-bian's proposed referendum that has prompted criticism from various major powers around the world, arrived in Singapore from Kuala Lumpur Wednesday.

    Addressing the gathering, Chiang said that Taiwan's proposed referendum is a "peaceful referendum" aimed at defending cross-strait security and lasting peace for the people of Taiwan.

    Indicating that Taiwan's "peaceful referendum" has nothing to do with the unification versus independence issue and that it does not contradict the "four-nos commitment" made by President Chen during his inauguration speech in 2002, Chiang also said that the right to referendum is a fundamental human right that the Taiwan people deserve.

    Taiwan does not need to declare independence as it has always been a sovereign and independent state, Chiang said. He pointed out that Chen's administration has spared no efforts in maintaining Taiwan's status quo, adding that it is mainland China which has continuously attempted to change the status quo by trying to force Taiwan to accept the "one country, two systems" formula.

    Noting that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should start a peaceful competition in their institutions and systems, the deputy secretary-general said that both sides should also strengthen communication with one another in order to narrow the gap between them and to offer a choice for their people in the future.

    Pointing out that the notions of democratization and maintaining the status quo are mainstream among the Taiwan people, Chiang said that freedom and democracy are also goals of the people across the Taiwan Strait.

    In the longterm, Chiang said, regardless of who becomes the next president of Taiwan, Taipei and Beijing are expected to hold talks since the people of Taiwan and mainland China have the same goal in seeking freedom and democracy.

    Besides meeting with leaders of the local Chinese and Taiwanese communities, Chiang and other members of the delegation also met with leading members of the Singaporean media Wednesday to explain Taiwan's referendum plan.

(By Sherman Wu and P.C. Tang)

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