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PRESIDENT TO MAKE NEW PROPOSAL ON CROSS-STRAIT TIES IN INAUGURATION

2004-04-02 17:43:29

    Tokyo, April 2 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said in an interview published by a major Japanese daily Friday that he will make a new proposal on cross-Taiwan Strait relations in his May 20 inauguration.

    In the exclusive interview carried by the Yomiuri Shimbun, Chen said the new proposal will be based on his inaugural address of four years ago during which he made known his "four noes plus one" pledge, including no declaration of independence if mainland China does not use military force against Taiwan.

    The president said that the idea of "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait" broached by him has become the view of the great majority of the people and that the Taiwan people will never accept the "one country, two systems" rhetoric espoused by the mainland.

    Chen also said he will press ahead with his plan to write a new constitution in 2006 and implement it in 2008.

    In addition to cross-strait relations, the president also touched on a broad range of issues, including Taiwan's first national referendum, the year-end legislative elections, the election-eve assassination attempt against him and the disputes in the wake of the presidential election, as well as Taiwan's relations with Japan and the United States.

    Speaking on his narrow victory over his sole challenger, Lien Chan of the Kuomintang, by 0.228 percent, or 29,518 votes out of the 13 million votes cast in the March 20 election, Chen attributed his success mainly to a rising national identity in Taiwan.

    The national identity is a growing consciousness of the need to protect Taiwan against the threat from the mainland, he said.

    Claiming that the "one country, two systems" imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing has failed, Chen said Taiwan will never accept that formula as the basis for unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    The mainland leadership is afraid of the democratic development in Taiwan, fearing it might affect Hong Kong and other restive areas of the mainland, he pointed out.

    Chen denied that the referendum, which was held in tandem with the presidential election, was a flop because the participation threshold of 50 percent was not achieved. Instead, he said it was "quite successful."

    Noting that there were concerns that the referendum would lead to a vote on Taiwan independence and bring war and disaster, he said the holding of the referendum attests that such was not the case and that referendum has now become part of the life of Taiwan people.

    The two questions posted in the referendum asked the voters whether they approve of stepping up national defense in face of missile threats from the mainland and whether a negotiation framework for talks with the mainland should be established.

    Of the roughly 45 percent of eligible voters that voted in the referendum, over 91 percent answered "yes" to both questions.

    He also spoke of the election-eve shooting that left him slightly injured, saying it was the combination of "too many coincidences, " although he added that it will not affect the democratic development of Taiwan.

    On the post-election turmoil in which supporters of the opposition "pan-blue alliance" protested against what they perceive as "unfair election" because of voting irregularities and the shooting -- which they believe swayed the bitterly contested election in Chen's favor -- Chen said: "Even if the winning margin is only one vote, it is still a win. This is what democracy is about," he pointed out.

    The next goal of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will be to obtain over half of the seats in the 225-seat legislature in the year-end legislative election, Chen said, adding that the DPP had encountered difficulties over the past four years because it did not have an overall legislative majority.

    Although the DPP is the largest party in the legislature, the "pan-blue alliance" of the KMT and the People First Party between them command a slight majority over the DPP and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

    He said that continued protests by the opposition camp after the election would help contribute to a DPP victory in the December legislative elections.

    The paper also reported that Chen wants to become a dominant force in the legislature, probably because of his intention to push for a new constitution.

    The president envisions the new constitution as calling for a three-branch government, instead of the existing five-branch one, along with measures to strengthen the president's power and halve the number of legislative seats.

    But Chen stressed that the new constitution will not touch on Taiwan independence and will be shaped mainly to make possible further administrative reforms.

(By Perry Hsieh and Lilian Wu)

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