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TAIWAN IS INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, PRESIDENT SAID IN INTERVIEW WITH TIME

2004-02-15 20:01:22

    Hong Kong, Feb 15(CNA): President Chen Shui-bian has reiterated that Taiwan is an independent and sovereign country in an interview with Time magazine.

    In an advance text of the interview to be published in the February 23 issue of the weekly, the president said what China fears the most is Taiwan's democracy, but "we must walk our own way, walk the right way."

    Chen did not rule out the possibility of eventual unification with China, saying "who knows if these two separate countries might become one over time? We do not exclude any possibilities for the future." However, Taiwan would not allow it's status quo be changed unilaterally.

    Below is the advance text of the interview to be published in the February 23 issue of Time:

    Time: Is the island of Taiwan an independent, sovereign country? Chen: Of course, Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country. I think, apart from a very few, most Taiwanese people firmly believe that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country.

    Time: Are you rejecting any idea of the "one China" principle?

    Chen: The "one China" principle is the "one country, two systems" formula. We cannot possibly accept the "one country, two systems" formula and become a local government of the People's Republic of China. We must reject the "one China" claim.

    Time: Do you accept the idea of eventual unification with China?

    Chen: Currently, there are two separate, independent countries across the Taiwan Strait, neither of which has jurisdiction over the other. But who knows if these two separate countries might become one over time? We do not exclude any possibilities for the future.

    Time: In the past, hasn't ambiguity over Taiwan's status secured peace in the strait?

    Chen: China talks of "one China." The previous kmt administration also talked of "one China"- they wanted to recover the mainland and have refused to give it up. Even now the kmt still insists on the policy of eventual unification. I think this is very unrealistic. With both sides of the Taiwan Strait singing the same tune, the result is that Taiwan is isolated in the international community, giving China ever better excuses for its attempt to absorb Taiwan, to make Taiwan into a second Hong Kong. This is a grave that Taiwan has dug for itself.

    Time: But things you say and things you do make Beijing very angry. Is that wise, or necessary?

    Chen: I think that even if Taiwan were to surrender, they (China) would still say that we are not sincere enough. What China fears the most is Taiwan's democracy. (But) we must walk our own way, walk the right way.

    Time: Taiwan's safety depends on protection by the U.S. With your referendum, are you going too far for the Bush Administration?

    Chen: The U.S. has expressed its opinions and concerns about the March 20 peace referendum, which we appreciate. What concerns the U.S. is whether or not Taiwan's status quo would be changed unilaterally, including a change of the status quo through a referendum. I would take this opportunity to tell the whole world that Taiwan's status quo will definitely not be changed-nor will we allow it to be changed unilaterally.

    Time: Beijing sometimes refers to you as a separatist.

    Chen: I understand it very clearly that they dislike me, and I'm not surprised that they call me names. (But) as the leader of this country, it is my duty to defend and safeguard Taiwan. I cannot betray the people of Taiwan, nor can I betray my own conscience.

    Time: What political leaders in history inspire you?

    Chen: I draw much inspiration from former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. I still recall a speech delivered by Kennedy in June 1963, about six months after the Cuban missile crisis. He elaborated on what is true peace: True peace is not the peace of enslavement, nor a dead peace. True peace comes when all people can live meaningful lives.

    Time: If you lose the election and the kmt takes the government, how bad would that be for Taiwan?

    Chen: I will be re-elected. I am a person that writes history and creates new chapters in history. (Stanley Cheung)

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