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NO NEED FOR TAIWAN TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE: EX-PRESIDENT

2004-03-30 21:38:10

    Tokyo, March 30 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian's March 20 re-election reflects the fact that awareness of a "Taiwan identity" has been cemented among the Taiwan people and that there is no need for the Taiwan government to declare independence, a Japanese daily newspaper quoted former President Lee Teng-hui as saying.

    Lee made the remarks in Taipei Monday during an exclusive interview with the Sankei Shimbun.

    It was the first time that the former president had commented to a foreign media outlet on the presidential poll, in which Chen beat the sole opposition challenger -- Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan -- by a razor-thin margin of 0.22 percent, or fewer than 30,000 votes out of more than 13 million ballots cast.

    Describing the election result as having laid a solid foundation for Taiwan to start a new era of full democracy, Lee said that the awareness of a distinct Taiwan identity among the general public is evident in Chen's re-election, which he claimed is also a victory for Taiwan's indigenous people.

    It is necessary for Taiwan to maintain a high Taiwan-centric consciousness in the run-up to Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games in 2008, but there is no need for the island to declare independence, Lee said.

    The top priority after Chen begins his second term is to repair relations with the United States and to review cross-Taiwan Strait issues, according to Lee.

(By Perry Hsieh and Flor Wang)

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