Sat, Jan 18, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Chen warns Asia of Chinese threat

BIG PROBLEM Promoting democracy is the best way to prevent terrorism such as that practiced by Beijing, the president told visiting foreign lawmakers yesterday

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian addresses the International Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Asian Pacific Security held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

China's military buildup is a danger to the whole region and Taiwan will not succumb to its threats, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"Asia-Pacific nations must concur that Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and will not revert to authoritarianism at any cost," Chen said during his address at the opening ceremony of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Asian-Pacific Security held at the Grand Hotel yesterday.

"The purpose of Taiwan's close cooperation with other nations on security issues is to ensure that Taiwan's hard-won democracy is not sabotaged," Chen said.

While the world is faced with various security threats -- such as Iraq and North Korea's ambitions to develop weapons of mass destruction and China's continuous military buildup -- like-minded countries in the region should reconfirm democracy as a commonly shared value to combat these security challenges, Chen said.

While Taiwan has vowed to take an active part in humanitarian work and the anti-terrorism alliance led by the US in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks, Chen said to espouse democracy is the only way to prevent terrorism.

"I must remind the international community that only democracy, not anti-terrorism campaigns, can cure the root of the problem," Chen said.

Chen announced that the long-awaited Taiwan Democracy Foundation will be established in June as a key mechanism through which Taiwan can cooperate with other democracies to promote what he termed "global democratization."

Chen tipped legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) as the chairman of the new foundation. The legislature, in its just concluded session, passed most of the budget for the foundation created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The president also pointed to the leadership in Beijing as a major threat to its own people, Taiwan and the whole region.

"We are deeply troubled by China's strategic aims. Moreover, China is an undemocratic regime that has been brutal toward its people and hegemonic toward its neighbors, thus causing fear and insecurity in the peoples and societies of the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

During her luncheon talk at the conference, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) urged the lawmakers from more than 15 countries participating in the conference to demand action.

"I solemnly urge all the distinguished parliamentary leaders here to demand China remove all the missiles deployed along the southeast coast immediately and unconditionally," Lu said, triggering a roomful of applause.

Lu also criticized Beijing for using anti-terrorism as a pretext to "crack down on domestic political dissidents and even to intimidate other countries."

She termed China's continuous military modernization to threaten the people of Taiwan as "another kind of terrorism."

"Can it be justified or overlooked simply because China has joined the US against terrorists?" Lu asked.

Lu lashed out at China for employing military, economic and diplomatic pressure to force Taiwan into submission, especially through what she termed policies to "seduce" Taiwanese business to invest in China, hollowing out Taiwan's economy.

Lu also criticized Beijing's view of Taiwan as a "renegade province" and its attempts to force other countries to deny visas to Tai-wanese officials and to exclude Taiwan from international organizations such as the UN.

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