Sun, Dec 28, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Why China must honor `five noes'

With the presidential election rapidly approaching, and with popular support for the candidates as reflected in opinion polls closer than ever, the issue of security in the Taiwan Strait has become the biggest focus of debate between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

To ensure security across the Taiwan Strait, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) indicated during his inaugural speech in 2000 that "as long as the Chinese communist regime does not intend to use force against Taiwan, I promise that during my term I will not declare independence, will not change the name of the country, will not push for the incorporation of a special state-to-state model of cross-strait relations into the Constitution and will not push for a referendum on the independence-unification issue that will change the status quo. Nor will there be any question of abolishing the National Unification Guidelines and the National Unification Council."

This is the so-called "five noes" statement.

However, Chen recently indicated that as China continues to deploy missiles targeting Taiwan and to expand its military, the conditions under which the "five noes" were formulated have long ceased to exist.

He went on to indicate that the defensive referendum to be held in March of next year will not violate the spirit of the "five noes."

This is the biggest concession and the most sincere compromise that Chen is making for the sake of national security, the popular good and peace in the Taiwan Strait.

But if China fires missiles as it did during the 1996 presidential campaign, the "five noes" will truly vanish.

In view of Chen's commitment and firm position, we express our deep support.

Some have noted that China's missile deployment and military expansion did not begin just today. Of course we admit that that is true. But China has been rapidly increasing the number of missiles it is aiming at Taiwan. That is why Chen openly stated recently that China has 496 missiles targeting Taiwan. This was to make the people of Taiwan understand the seriousness of the military threat posed by China.

The reality is that China is a threat to all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But no one feels more threatened than Taiwan, which is only a short distance away from China. In addition, the economic interests of the people of Taiwan are tied up with China. Any conflict will change the existing economic structure and balance of power. This is not something that people on either side of the Taiwan Strait would be pleased to see.

After Chen took the initiative by expressing goodwill through his "five noes" statement, China responded by saying that "it will listen carefully to Chen's words, and closely observe his conduct." The hegemonic mentality evident in this statement, in addition to China's continued missile deployments, military expansion and espionage campaign against Taiwan's military intelligence, as well as a series of verbal threats and attacks, make us question how much of the goodwill expressed by Chen is being reciprocated.

How much longer must the people of Taiwan live under the threat of a missile attack? As the people of a sovereign country, aren't we entitled to choose the way we want to live? What is wrong with the government's enacting the Referendum Law (公民投票法) so as to protect the Taiwanese people's right to self-determination?

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