NEW CONSTITUTION PLAN NOT INDEPENDENCE TIMETABLE: PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE
Taipei, April 22 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian's plan to write a new constitution for Taiwan in 2006 is part of his efforts to deepen and consolidate Taiwan's young democracy, Presidential Office spokesman James Huang said Thursday.
Huang made the remarks after James Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, warned against Taiwan pursuing formal independence at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. a day earlier.
Huang said the Presidential Office would not comment on Kelly's testimony. "But we are willing to further explain our stance on our constitutional reform plan," he added.
Quoting Chen, Huang said the plan to formulate a new constitution will be carried out in line with the principle of no change to Taiwan's political status quo and is by no means a timetable for pursuing de jure Taiwan independence.
Over the past four years, Huang said, Chen has faithfully abided by his "four noes plus one" pledge outlined in his 2000 inaugural speech. "The president has never backed off from his promise during his four-year term," Huang said.
The "four noes plus one" pledge refers to no change to the Republic of China's national title and flag, no holding of a referendum on Taiwan independence or unification with mainland China, no enshrinement of the "two states theory" in the ROC Constitution and no abolishment of the National Unification Council.
After Chen was re-elected in the March 20 presidential election, Huang said, he has said on numerous public occasions that his top priority for his second four-year term is to unify Taiwan, stabilize cross-Taiwan Strait relations and boost economic development.
Although Chen has said Taiwan needs a new constitution to resolve legislative gridlock and make its political system more efficient, Beijing views it as a step toward independence -- a move that could provoke a military attack by the mainland.
Huang said the government will step up publicity and continue communications with the ROC's allies and the international community so that they can come to a better understanding of the gist of Taiwan's new constitution plan.
(By Sofia Wu)
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