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2004-03-09 15:37:42

    Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Beijing has always tried to influence Taiwan's presidential elections and has used even more intricate means to try do so this time around, including interfering via third countries, President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday.

    The president made the comments while responding to questions raised while he was being interviewed by the local television station TVBS.

    Although everybody knows Beijing doesn't want him to win the March 20 election, Chen said, Taiwan is not Hong Kong, and other countries cannot interfere in Taiwan's presidential elections. "So long as Taiwan's president is elected by democratic procedures, the United States, Japan, mainland China and other countries must respect the results," he said.

    Asked whether the referendum scheduled for March 20 that he initiated has caused tension between Taipei and Washington, the president said that his methods and the U.S. position are in line for the most part, adding that the reports of tensions between the two sides have been exaggerated.

    Speaking on reports regarding the resignation notice by Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan's top envoy to the United States, the president highly lauded the envoy's performance. He said that this is not the first time the envoy has tendered his resignation, pointing out that it has nothing to do with the state of U.S.-Taiwan relations and is instead related to pressure from the opposition "pan-blue alliance."

    Saying that U.S. President George W. Bush has expressed his concern for Taiwan's future development and his willingness to support and help the island, President Chen said that Bush did not voice opposition to Taiwan's referendum during his December meeting with mainland Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao but instead voiced his opposition to any unilateral changes to the current status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side.

    The president emphasized that the March 20 referendum is aimed at maintaining the status quo rather than changing it, adding that his future efforts regarding reform of the ROC Constitution will be carried out on the basis of maintaining the status quo. He said that regardless of who wins the March 20 election, the close relations between Taipei and Washington will continue.

    On Beijing's attempts to influence the outcome of the March 20 election, Chen stressed that Taiwan is a democratic country and that only the Taiwan people can choose who their leader will be.

(By P.C. Tang)


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