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2004-01-27 23:09:10

    Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) The Republic of China is an independent sovereign state and no foreign nation is entitled to interfere in Taiwan's referendum slated for March 20, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement issued Tuesday.

    The MOFA statement came one day after remarks made by French President Jacques Chirac during a meeting in Paris with mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao that Taiwan's proposed referendum is wrong and will damage regional peace and stability, costing Taiwan a heavy price. The two men also signed a joint statement Tuesday to express France's opposition to Taiwan's referendum.

    The MOFA said it laments Chirac's comments and lodged a strong protest with the French government.

    The referendum, projected to coincide with the March 20 presidential election, is only a move designed by the Taiwan government to bolster its democratization -- a milestone for a democratic society -- and France, as one of the world's greatest democracies, should realize the importance of such a practice for a democratic nation, the MOFA said.

    The referendum, which the government says will not alter the cross-Taiwan Strait status quo, will ask Taiwan's voters if they agree or disagree that the country should further bolster its anti-missile defenses and if they think the government should begin negotiations with mainland China on setting up a framework for peace and the mutual benefit of the people on both sides of the strait.

    Claiming that Beijing should be held fully accountable for seriously hurting the feelings of Taiwan's 23 million people by attempting to block Taiwan's referendum and rig its presidential election, the MOFA said.

    It also urged the Chinese communist regime to immediately stop its intimidation of Taiwan in the international area and renounce its threat of force against Taiwan, including removing the 496 missiles aimed at Taiwan, to safeguard peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

(By Flor Wang)


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