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Peace pact with China will require referendum: president

ROC Central News Agency

2011/10/20 13:54:48

By Kelven Huang, Chen Pei-huang and Y.F. Low

Taipei, Oct. 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Thursday the government would obtain Taiwanese people's approval through a referendum before pushing for a peace pact with mainland China.

His remarks came amid an onslaught of opposition from critics who accused him of trying to rush through unification with the mainland, after he announced on Monday that he hoped Taiwan could consider a peace pact with China within the next 10 years.

Ma explained on Thursday that holding a referendum was a method for the government to see if the idea had strong public support. It was one of the three preconditions he set for the signing of the peace agreement.

The other two were that the deal met the needs of the nation and was monitored by the legislative branch.

"Unless all three preconditions are met, the government will not sign it," he said in a news conference held to elaborate on his peace pact idea, which he put forth as part of his vision of a "golden decade" for Taiwan.

"This demonstrates our firm, yet cautious attitude toward the matter," he added.

According to Ma's proposal, if he were re-elected to a second term, the government would "cautiously consider" the possibility of forging a peace accord with the mainland within the next 10 years.

Some analysts have viewed Ma's idea as throwing a bombshell in an otherwise uneventful campaign season.

Just as expected, it sparked an immediate backlash from the opposition pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which accused Ma of establishing a timetable for unification with China.

On Wednesday, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who is running against Ma in the Jan. 14, 2012 election, described Ma's peace pact proposal as an ill-considered idea that would "send the Taiwanese people into a dangerous situation."

Tsai argued that the proposal risks sacrificing Taiwan's sovereignty, changing the cross-strait status quo, endangering Taiwan's hard-earned democracy and undermining Taiwan's strategic position.

She also likened the proposed cross-strait peace deal to the 17-point peace agreement reached between China and Tibet in 1951, which she said resulted in "decades of Chinese political and military suppression of the Tibetan people."

Ma on Thursday dismissed the DPP's accusations as "groundless" and creating "misunderstanding" in society. The president reiterated that he had not set any timetable for the signing of the deal.

"I didn't say the peace pact must be signed within the next 10 years, although I did emphasize that this will be an unavoidable issue that Taiwan must face in the next decade," he said.

Reaffirming his "three noes" policy, Ma said the purpose of the proposed agreement is exactly to consolidate the cross-strait status quo of "no unification, no independence, no use of force," which he said represents the mainstream of public opinion in Taiwan that is held by more than 80 percent of the people.

He said that his "golden decade" vision is based upon "four assurances" -- that the government will ensure the sovereignty of the Republic of China, Taiwan's security and prosperity, ethnic harmony and cross-strait peace, and a sustainable environment and social justice.

"The scenario mentioned by Chairwoman Tsai, therefore, will not happen," Ma said.

He also criticized Tsai as making an "incongruous analogy" by comparing the proposed cross-strait peace accord with the China-Tibet agreement, which is a document between the central government of the People's Republic of China and a local government that bears the term "peaceful liberation of Tibet."

"It (Tsai's comparison) was an act of serious self-denigration that paid no regard to the Republic of China's status as a sovereign state," Ma said.

He reminded Tsai that back in 2003, when she was chief of the Mainland Affairs Council in the administration of former President Chen Shui-bian, Chen proposed that the two sides of the strait sign a similar agreement to build a framework for cross-strait peace and stability.

Ma said Tsai's opposition to the latest peace overture shows that she is flipflopping on her position on the issue.

"Chairwoman Tsai was promoting the work eight years ago. But eight years later, she is criticizing us for raising the idea," said Ma.

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