ONLY TAIWAN PEOPLE CAN DECIDE NATION'S FUTURE: PRESIDENT
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 16 (CNA) In his first public response to the passage of China's Anti-Secession Law, President Chen Shui-bian said Wednesday that only the 23 million people of Taiwan can decide the island's future and that Beijing has no say in the matter.
The president made the remarks at the Presidential Office when he received participants in a workshop for Global Alliance for Democracy and Peace regional chapter leaders.
The National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp parliament, passed almost unanimously the Anti-Secession Law Monday, authorizing the use of "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan should the island move toward independence.
The president reminded the public that Beijing is used to a double-handed, carrot-and-stick approach and that they should not be fooled by it.
One million Taiwan people are expected to take to the streets March 26 to say that "more than 2,000 delegates of China's National People's Congress cannot decide the fate of the 23 million people of Taiwan, and that only the great Taiwan people can decide Taiwan's future with freedom, democracy and peace," the president said.
In a six-point statement, Chen expressed his grave concerns and regret over the newly passed law on behalf of the government.
He reiterated that the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent country and that 90 percent of the people believe that only the people of Taiwan have the right to decide on the country's future.
If Beijing leaders really "pin hopes on Taiwan people" as they claimed, they should listen to the voice of the majority of Taiwan people, accept the fact of the existence of the Republic of China and respect the choice of Taiwan people in free will.
Beijing's enactment of the law has shown the stark differences in the systems on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but the resolution of the differences will not be achieved by the Anti-Secession Law, he said.
He reiterated that "both sides should solve bilateral differences through dialogue based on the principles of democracy, freedom and peace, " and that "any undemocratic or non-peaceful means, no matter under what pretenses, will not be condoned by the international community and will only further divide cross-strait relations and cause the peoples on both sides to drift further apart."
The president noted that despite the international community's overwhelming opposition to the law and repeated appeals not to enact the law, Beijing has turned a deaf ear and went ahead with the legislation.
He stressed that "any laws that advocate the use of force, no matter for what reasons or excuses, are a smear of the universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights and a regression of human civilization."
The president said the Taiwan people love peace and are determined to safeguard the country's democratic system. Although he is happy to see the emergence of China, he said Beijing has continued to engage in military expansion for a long time, increased its missile deployments targeting Taiwan.
Chen again appealed to the European Union not to lift a 16-year-old arms embargo against a potential invader before Beijing guarantees peace and renounces "non-peaceful means" to take Taiwan.
He said the law is Beijing's attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, which has resulted in a most grave negative impact on cross-strait relations, which were eased somewhat in the wake of cross-strait charter flights during the Chinese New Year holiday.
He said Taiwan is willing to share its development experience with China, saying that Taiwan can offer its "democratic system, complete freedom and human rights protection."
Finally, the president appealed for public participation in a protest march March 26, saying that as the international community opposes the law, the Taiwan people must not remain silent.
The march will be the "most peaceful, rational and humble" voice of Taiwan people to say "no" to the law, the president said.
(By Lilian Wu)
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