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PRESIDENT SIGNS 'REASONS FOR REFERENDUM' LETTER

2004-02-03 20:10:32

    Taipei, Feb. 3 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian opened a new chapter in the country's democratic development Tuesday by signing a letter listing the reasons for Taiwan's first national referendum.

    In the letter, the president said Beijing's repression of Taiwan and its deployment of missiles against Taiwan constitute a threat that jeopardizes the country's sovereignty and that the danger justifies a presidential call for a referendum under the country's newly enacted Referendum Law.

    In "order to prevent Beijing attacking Taiwan, " the president said in his letter, the referendum will ask the following two questions: -- "The people of Taiwan demand that the Taiwan Strait issue be resolved through peaceful means. Should mainland China refuse to withdraw the missiles it has targeted at Taiwan and openly renounce the use of force against us, would you agree that the government should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities?" -- "Would you agree that our government should engage in negotiation with mainland China on the establishment of a peace and stability framework for cross-strait interactions in order to build consensus and for the welfare of the peoples of both sides?"

    The president said Taiwan faces the most serious missile threat anywhere in the world and that the number of missiles pointed by Beijing at Taiwan, increasing by one every six days, will break the 600 mark by 2005.

    A "yes" vote for the first question will show the mainland and the international community that the Taiwan people will not cave in under intimidation, according to Chen.

    As to his plan for negotiations with Beijing, the letter said these will be based on one principle and cover four issues.

    The one principle is that all differences must be sorted out peacefully, that force must not be used as a means of solving problems and that the current cross-strait situation must not be changed unilaterally.

    The four issues to be broached in the negotiations are the establishment of a negotiation mechanism, association with each other on equal footing, building political ties and avoiding military conflict.

    Chen's letter claimed that a "yes" vote on the second question would force the mainland to stop its political boycott of the Taiwan authorities and force them to contemplate talks with Taiwan.

    The letter was sent to the Executive Yuan Tuesday afternoon, formally kicking off the process for a March 20 referendum in conjunction with the presidential election.

(By Maubo Chang)

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