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FRANCE DOESN'T OPPOSE TAIWAN'S MARCH 20 REFERENDUM: FOREIGN MINISTRY

2004-01-29 20:28:28

    Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) France doesn't oppose Taiwan's March 20 referendum; what they oppose is the possibility of Taiwan holding a referendum to justify its independence in the future, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

    Shih Jui-chi, a spokesman for the ministry said the island's representative to Paris, L. N. Chiu, was told on Tuesday by Thierry Dana, an official in charge with Asian affairs at the French Foreign Ministry, that his government knew how significant this referendum will be for Taiwan, and has taken note of the message conveyed by a Taiwan delegation to France earlier this month. The French will also study carefully President Chen Shui-bian's statement about the referendum.

    Shih quoted Dana as telling Chiu that his government adheres to the "one China" policy, and encourages dialogue between Taiwan and the mainland. What Paris opposes is any unilateral activity which will destabilize the situation across the Taiwan Strait.

    As Taiwan has made it clear that its March 20 referendum has nothing to do with Taiwan's permanent separation from the mainland and would not alter the status quo across the Strait, the French have been made aware of this and neither its president nor its foreign ministry has taken issue with the March 20 referendum.

    French President Jacques Chirac has come under fire in Taiwan after he called Taiwan's planned referendum on its ties with mainland China "a grave mistake" on Monday during a banquet hosted by him in honor of visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    President Chen Shui-bian said on Tuesday that France is not in a position to interfere with Taiwan's internal affairs.

(By Maubo Chang)

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