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2004-03-30 16:17:52

    Washington, March 29 (CNA) Though the first nationwide referendum in Taiwan was not considered valid because the participation threshold of 50 percent was not achieved, it will not affect arms purchases between Taiwan and the United States, Chen Chien-jen, the Republic of China's Representative to the United States, said Monday.

    Chen was responding to questions at a regular news conference on whether the invalidity of the referendum, which asked whether to increase anti-missile defenses in the face of the missile threat posed by mainland China, and whether to open cross-strait talks to establish a peace and stability framework, will affect Taiwan's purchases of arms from the United States.

    Chen also said that up to now, the United States has not commented on the outcome of the referendum, although it expressed serious concern when President Chen Shui-bian first announced in early December that areferendum would be held along with the March 20 presidential election.

    Chen said that although there were controversies in Taiwan over the legitimacy and necessity as well as the timing and ways of holding the referendum, it failed to be validated simply because not enough people took part in it.

    But he stressed, "The first nationwide referendum in Taiwan has significance in itself."

    Of the roughly 45 percent of the eligible voters that did vote in the referendum, over 91 percent answered "yes" to both of the questions.

(By Jorge Liu and Lilian Wu)


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