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2004-01-27 19:12:38

    Taipei, Jan. 27 (CNA) Taiwan's planned referendum in March is solely a move aimed at cementing its democracy and a way to express the desire that the international community not yield to Beijing's attempts to hobble Taiwan's democratization, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

    Richard Shih, director-general of MOFA's Information and Cultural Affairs Department, made the remarks at a news conference after French President Jacques Chirac commented publicly during a meeting Monday in Paris with mainland Chinese President Hu Jintao that Taiwan's referendum is a wrongdoing that will undermine regional peace and stability and cost Taiwan a heavy price.

    Pointing out that the Republic of China foreign ministry had full knowledge of Chirac's statement in advance, Shih said MOFA strongly regrets the French president's remarks and urged the international community not to give way to pressure from Beijing by making comments disparaging Taiwan's referendum plan.

    As a mature democracy where a referendum is a democratic practice that is fully protected and recognized, France should realize that Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum will by no means pose a threat to peace, Shih added.

    Shih said MOFA has instructed ROC Representative to France Chiou Jong-nan to step up communications with the French authorities over the issue.

    Reiterating that Taiwan's planned March 20 referendum on the presidential election day has nothing to do with changing Taiwan's status quo nor it is a violation of President Chen Shui-bian's "five noes" policy made public in his inaugural speech on May 20, 2000, Shih said the plan is designed to set up a framework to secure peaceful and stable interactions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    The deployment of 496 missiles aimed at Taiwan by Beijing and its continued military build-up are a genuine threat to cross-strait peace, he said.

    Beijing's ploy to twist Taiwan's referendum project with foreign intervention as a means of rigging the presidential race has definitively hurt the feelings of Taiwan's 23 million people, the spokesman said. He added that the foreign ministry will lodge a strong protest and seek international backing to demand that Beijing remove the missiles and renounce its use of force against Taiwan.

    This will be a great help to improving cross-strait ties and safeguarding peace in the region, he said, noting that the foreign ministry has also ordered its 121 outposts overseas to provide better and detailed explanations of Taiwan's referendum plan to the government and the private sector in their host countries.

    MOFA has been working on a second position paper in conjunction with its efforts to accomplish the objective, he added.

    The Taiwan people who go to polling stations across the country to elect a new president on March 20 will also answer yes or no in a referendum ballot regarding two questions: Should Taiwan buy more anti-missile weapons in the face of Beijing's missile threat and should the government start two-way negotiations on devising a mechanism to create stability, prosperity and peace across the Taiwan Strait.

(By Flor Wang)


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