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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Taiwan Will Never Develop Nukes, Vows Chen

Taiwan News, Nov. 11, 2004

President Chen Shui-bian declared yesterday that Taiwan will "absolutely not develop" nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction and "solemnly" urged China to "openly abandon the development and use of weapons of mass destruction."

Chen issued the call as well as other "goodwill" measures toward China during an expanded meeting of the National Security Council, of which he is chairman due to his position as president.

The meeting was called to discuss the state of relations among the United States, Taiwan and China in the wake of the November 2 U.S. presidential election and Taiwan's possible responses to the new situation.

Speaking at the end of the session, Chen related that participants had reached several points of consensus on topics related to the impact of the U.S. poll on the triangular relationship and related topics, including how to promote mutually beneficial cross-strait relations, how to avoid cross-strait military conflict and maintain peace and develop a bilateral "code of conduct" in the Taiwan Strait.

Besides reaffirming the stability of U.S.-Taiwan relations based on common universal values of democracy and human rights, Chen said that the coming two years would be a "decisive period of opportunity" for Taiwan and China.

"Even if the other side cannot immediately respond to our goodwill and sincerity for various reasons, our resolve and sincerity will not change," stated Chen, who reaffirmed that the "goodwill" proposals offered in his May 20 re-election inaugural speech and October 10 National Day Address will continue to guide his Democratic Progressive Party administration's cross-strait policy.

On this foundation, Chen instructed all related government agencies to "actively draft cross-strait 'sunshine policies' with a view to restarting dialogue, easing tensions and promoting cooperative development."

While noting that "we fully understand the 'one China' principle of the Beijing authorities," the president also urged Beijing to "recognize the fact of the existence of the Republic of China and that resolute democratic belief of Taiwan's 23 million people to be masters of their own destiny."

"If the two sides can have mutual understanding and tolerance on these points, we can go through peaceful dialogue and rational discussions to resolve differences and end hostility," Chen said.

The president reaffirmed an offer to use the experience of the September 1992 Hong Kong discussions as a basis for talks on direct links and other issues and said that "at the present stage, we can use the consultation pattern of Taiwan-Hong Kong commercial air discussions."

Chen also stated that to ease the chance of cross-strait military conflict and promote reform of the armed forces, Taiwan should step up its transition to a smaller but more technology-intensive and elite force for self-defense.

The president said that the Ministry of National Defense already had plans to reduce the length of compulsory military service to 18 months beginning July 1, 2005 and possibly to one year by July 1, 2008 as well as calling for a reduction of 100,000 in the size of Taiwan's armed forces.

Moreover, Chen declared that "for reasons of humanitarianism and international principles of conduct, we believe that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction should be banned from use in the Taiwan Strait."

"We are willing to openly promise that we will absolutely never develop such weapons of mass destruction and want to solemnly urge China to openly abandon the development and use of weapons of mass destruction," the president declared.

Chen also proposed that both sides discuss the expansion of the tacit center line in the Taiwan Strait into a "military buffer zone" as well as the formation of "a code of conduct in the Taiwan Strait" to reduce possibility of accidental conflict.

Finally, Chen issued an invitation to the leaders of Taiwan's opposition parties to participate in the planned presidential-level "Cross-strait Peace and Development Council" and did not exclude the possibility of an opposition leader acting as the chairperson of such a body in order to "meld consensus among the governing and opposition parties and all citizens for a lasting 'cross-strait peace and development program.'"

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