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Taiwan to face mounted suppression if referendums fail: president

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-06 12:07:00

    Taipei, March 6 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian warned Thursday Taiwan will face even harsher suppression by China if the two upcoming referendums on the country's bid to join the United Nations fail.

    Chen said the passage of the referendums will allow the world to hear Taiwan's desire for U.N. membership, thus drawing Taiwan closer to its goal of joining the world body. "If they are not passed, China will benefit most from that, and Taiwan will suffer even more serious suppression (by China) , "Chen said in the latest issue of his online newsletter.

    The president again urged the country's citizens to put aside their political differences to support the two referendums, slated to be held March 22 alongside the presidential election.

    The referendums were initiated by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) , respectively. While the DPP's version advocates joining the United Nations under the name "Taiwan, " the KMT's initiative calls for regaining U.N. membership under the name "Republic of China" or any other "suitable" name.

    However, as all previous referendums failed because the turnout rates did not reach the required 50 percent -- partly due to a boycott by the KMT, chances are that the upcoming referendums might also fail, especially when voters who opt to take part in the KMT-initiated referendum are likely to skip the DPP-backed referendum, and vice versa.

    Concerned that a failure of the U.N. bid referendums would mislead the world into doubting Taiwan's desire to join the United Nations, Chen has recently been calling on the public to take an active part in both referendums to ensure their passage.

    The president noted that a 13-day round-the-island parade featuring statues of local deities aimed at promoting the U.N. bid is scheduled to reach Chaotien Temple in Peikang, Yunlin County later Thursday and that he will also join the parade at the temple to show his support. "Hopefully under the protection of the gods, the country's citizens will be summoned to vote in support of Taiwan's bid to become a member of the United Nations to call the international community's attention to our appeal," he said.

    The parade was organized by the National Cultural Association and the U.N. for Taiwan Alliance. Setting off Feb. 29 from the northern port city of Keelung, the parade is scheduled to end March 12 after arriving at Sanchung, Taipei County.

(By Y.F. Low)

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