Thu, Jan 23, 2003 - Page 1 News List

President reaffirms sovereignty

STANDING UP In an interview with a US think tank, Chen urged Beijing to face up to the reality of the cross-strait relationship and recognize the ROC


President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has told a US think tank that Taiwan is not part, province or local government of any other country.

In an interview with Harvey Sicherman, president of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), Chen urged the Beijing government to face up to the reality of the existence of the ROC as a sovereign state and to resume bilateral dialogue as soon as possible.

Only exchanges on an equal footing can help forge mutual trust to lay the foundations for high-level dialogue between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Chen said.

The Philadelphia-based institute said the interview offers a view of Chen's ideas on cross-strait relations, the connection with the US and Taiwan's future.

Chen said that despite frequent economic, trade and cultural exchanges, as well as the large number of people traveling across the strait, considerable differences and some prejudices still exist between the two sides.

"The People's Republic of China continues to be Taiwan's greatest political oppressor and the most serious military threat to our national security," Chen said.

He pointed out that Beijing's primary goal is to marginalize and downgrade Taiwan to the status of a local government by isolating it politically while trying to involve it economically.

"At the same time, Beijing is stonewalling our attempts to resume talks and normalize Taiwan-China relations. Even now, despite the fact that both sides are members of the World Trade Organization and have the framework for discussing important economic and trade issues, the lack of communication between the two has continued. This is not a normal approach to developing Taiwan-China relations," Chen said. He stressed that the ROC is a sovereign state.

"This is the clear and obvious status of our country. The ROC effectively exercises jurisdiction over the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu -- a fact no one can deny," Chen said.

Asked if he risks provoking Beijing into retaliating with force by asserting that Taiwan is a separate country, Chen said that if he were to deny that the ROC is a sovereign state, he would no longer be qualified to serve as president.

"Neither the ROC nor the PRC is subordinate to the other. I want to make it clear that Taiwan is not a part of, a local government of, or a province of any country," he said.

"This is a fact of history. We want to emphasize to the international community that, as a sovereign state, the ROC cannot be downgraded, treated as a local government, or marginalized by anyone," he said.

Chen said that since his inauguration he has made many important policy announcements concerning China to demonstrate Taiwan's goodwill.

"We have never given up any opportunity or effort that might improve Taiwan-China relations. Regrettably, China has yet to offer a positive response. On the contrary, it has continued its attempts to suppress Taiwan internationally and underscores through military exercises its refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan," Chen said.

Taiwan looks forward to and calls on Beijing to face the reality of cross-strait relations, Chen said

"We hope that they will resume the dialogue with us as soon as possible and strengthen exchanges on the basis of parity. In this way we can build mutual faith and confidence, set the stage for higher-level talks and allow both sides to rise above the current disputes and deadlock," he said.

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