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INDEPENDENCE A MOOT POINT AS TAIWAN ALREADY HAS SOVEREIGNTY: PRESIDENT

2004-02-19 16:01:21

    Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian reiterated Thursday that Taiwan need not declare independence because it is already an independent, sovereign country no matter whether it is called "Taiwan" or the "Republic of China."

    Chen made the remarks in a radio interview with Chou Yu-ko, a noted talk show host. The one-hour interview was broadcast live on UFO Network from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

    During the talk show known as "UFO Breakfast," Chou asked Chen if he is re-elected in the March 20 presidential election, will he declare Taiwan independence?

    In response, Chen said those who have asked him this question do not seem to have full confidence in Taiwan's sovereign status. "Only those who lack confidence in our national sovereignty will feel a need to declare Taiwan independence," Chen said. "For me, such an issue is non-existent."

    Chen said his Democratic Progressive Party administration has insisted that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state regardless of its official designation. "No matter whether we are called 'Taiwan' or the 'Republic of China, ' we are a country and I'm the top leader of this country. I'm now the ROC's 10th-term president and I'm now running for re-election to become our country's 11th-term president," Chen explained.

    If he is re-elected in the March 20 presidential election, Chen said he will continue to honor the "four noes plus one" pledge outlined in his 2000 inaugural address. "For me, a promise is timeless. I won't retreat from the 'four noes plus one' pledge in my 2004 inaugural speech, " Chen said firmly. The now famous pledge includes no change of Taiwan's national title and flag as well as no holding of a referendum on the "independence vs. referendum" issue.

    As to his earlier advocacy of writing a new constitution for Taiwan in 2006, Chen said he will definitely carry out Taiwan's constitutional reform with no change in the status quo as the guiding principle.

    In the interview, Chen also defended his decision to hold the nation's first-ever referendum alongside the upcoming presidential election, stressing that the two referendum questions will offer the electorate an opportunity to express their opinions about major policy issues.

    In the March 20 referendum, the voters will be asked whether Taiwan should acquire more anti-missile defense capabilities to defend itself against military threats from mainland China and whether the island should enter into talks with Beijing for the establishment of a framework for peaceful interaction.

    Even though the results of the referendum may be self-evident, Chen said the referendum will serve to reaffirm Taiwan's commitment to pursuing permanent peace with mainland China and to remind Beijing that it must negotiate a viable interactive framework with Taiwan because its "one China" principle is unacceptable.

    Chen also said he sees no fault in Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min's remarks a day earlier that even if less than half of the electorate vote against purchasing more missiles in the upcoming referendum, the Ministry of National Defense will go ahead with its arms procurement plans. "What we need to buy to beef up our defense capabilities includes many kinds of weapons, not just missiles, " Chen argued, adding that he had extensive discussions with Tang and other government officials before deciding on the referendum questions.

(By Sofia Wu)

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