PRESIDENT VOWS NO WAR, PROMISES TO BE CROSS-STRAIT PEACEMAKER
Taipei, March 13 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian vowed Saturday to be a peacemaker between Taiwan and mainland China and predicted that there will be no war between the two sides if he succeeds in his re-election bid on March 20.
Chen, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), made the statement during a televised forum in which Chen and his sole rival -- opposition Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan -- aired their policies in their second such encounter with only a week to go before the presidential poll.
Chen said that a task force, to be led by Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh and various leaders from the business and industrial communities with the aim of promoting cross-Taiwan Strait peace, will immediately begin its mission to conduct negotiations with the mainland based on the results of the March 20 referendum on normalized ties and the prevention of military conflict.
Claiming that Taiwan is willing to hold dialogue with the mainland to dilute cross-strait tensions, Chen said that war will not erupt if he is re-elected for a second term and gave his assurances that "our children will not be sent to the battlefield."
Following the May 20 presidential inauguration, the government will appoint an envoy to be stationed in Beijing to help create a set of effective mechanisms to forge and manage a stable and peaceful relationship between the two sides, he pointed out.
Turning to Taiwan's first referendum, to be held on the same day as the presidential vote, Chen said the people of Taiwan are entitled to say "no" to the missiles aimed by Beijing at Taiwan.
He encouraged the Taiwan people to cast their ballots in the historic referendum as a means of displaying to the world -- and especially the mainland and the United States -- their deep aspiration and strong resolve for peace.
In the face of the mainland's military buildup, the Taiwan people should make their voice heard all over the world, Chen went on. "During the coming four years, we will stick to Taiwan's sovereignty, dignity and security to turn the nation into an economic hub of Asia and the entire world, which by no means forms a part of the mainland economy, " Chen vowed, adding that "Taiwan's sovereignty is undisputable" and that "the Taiwan people will not allow the country to become just a special region of another country."
He also reiterated his determination to wipe out corruption from Taiwan politics and said categorically that only his re-election will put an end to such moneyed politics.
In a gesture of conciliation and compromise to his political rivals, Chen said that he is willing to invite Lien and his vice presidential running mate -- People First Party Chairman James Soong -- to serve as his political affairs advisors and added that he will fully support local developments as in the past, regardless of the political affiliation of local government chiefs.
(By Flor Wang)
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