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2004-01-17 20:10:49

    Brussels, Jan. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's holding of a referendum has nothing to do with seeking independence, members of an ROC delegation visiting Belgium explained Friday.

    Legislator Parris Chang of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, head of the delegation, speaking in Brussels at the Center for Asian Studies, a major think tank of the European Union, also explained that the purpose of holding the referendum is to maintain the status quo and peace in the Taiwan Strait.

    Both Chang and other members of the delegation were asked why the Taiwan government is insisting on holding the referendum when the issue has raised so many concerns and when there are other ways to express the will of the people, such as through public polls or surveys.

    Chang and Byron S. J. Weng, adviser to President Chen Shui-bian, explained the referendum from the angle of the Taiwan people's rights which they said have been won only after long-term efforts in the democratic development of the nation. "People outside Taiwan have focused on the planned referendum as causing heightened tensions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, " Chang said, adding that the fact is that Taiwan has been unable to persuade mainland China to remove its deployed missiles aimed at the island.

    The Referendum Law passed by the Legislative Yuan in late November clearly stipulates that the question of changing the nation's official name cannot be put to a referendum, Chang explained. "The holding of a referendum has nothing to do with seeking independence," he stressed.

    The delegation also unveiled the two questions that President Chen intends to put to a referendum on the day of the next presidential election set for March 20. The two questions are whether Taiwan should strengthen its anti-missile defenses if Beijing refuses to remove its missiles, and whether the government should engage in negotiations with Beijing to establish a "peace and stability" framework for cross-strait interactions.

    The members of the delegation explained that the referendum is aimed at urging the international community to take notice of the mainland military threat to Taiwan and of the imbalances in the Taiwan Strait security situation.

    Chang reaffirmed that Taiwan will hold the referendum for the sake of its security and survival despite mainland China's vehement opposition.

(By Y.S. Lo and Lilian Wu)


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