President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday announced the content of his referendum plan, which is to ask the people of Taiwan whether they would support enhancing the nation's defensive capabilities as well as negotiations with China about establishing peace and stability. \n"I would hereby like to announce the questions that will be put to the people of Taiwan for the peace referendum on March 20," Chen said during a pre-recorded TV speech last night. \n"The People of Taiwan demand that the Taiwan Strait issue be resolved through peaceful means. The first question is: `If China refuses to withdraw the missiles it has targeted at Taiwan and to openly renounce the use of force against us, would you agree that the government should acquire more advanced anti-missile weapons to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities?'" Chen said. \n"And the second question is: `Would you agree that our government should engage in negotiations with China about the establishment of a "peace and stability" framework for cross-strait interactions in order to build consensus and for the welfare of the peoples on both sides?'" the president continued. \nAccording to a government official the wording of the president's referendum question was finalized over the past few days, and the official English translation has been sent to members of the US government. \nThe government official, who declined to be identified, said yesterday that it was not necessary to get approval from or to discuss the wording of the president's referendum question with the US. \n"Since both countries have long-term friendships, we informed the US government, and we are waiting for our friend's reaction," the source said. \nDuring yesterday's TV speech, Chen said that while he has fully abided by the "five noes" promise of his inauguration speech, China has been increasing the number of missiles targeted at Taiwan and has been intensifying its military preparations for a possible attack. \n"China's purpose is unquestionably obvious -- they aim to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait through undemocratic and non-peaceful means, rather than through working with us to maintain stability in the region," Chen said. \nHe said this was why a "peace referendum" would be an effective preventive measure, as it would help to increase people's awareness of and readiness for such a threat, while actively seeking to maintain the status quo. \nChen said he was still committed to reopening dialogue with China, saying that he would invite Beijing's representative to visit Taiwan to resume cross-strait negotiations. \n"If I assume this office as the 11th president of the Republic of China, I will continue to strive to the fullest of my abilities to maintain the status quo and ensure the sovereignty, dignity and security of our country," Chen said. \n"Furthermore, on the basis of maintaining the status quo, I will continue the proposed reengineering of our Constitution. Within the shortest possible time frame, we aim to invite China to appoint a representative to meet with our appointed envoy -- mindful of the democratic choice that has been made by the people of Taiwan -- to commence negotiations on the establishment of a `peace and stability' framework for cross-strait interactions," the president said. \nA top-ranking government official said yesterday that the major significance of Chen's two referendum questions is that the government will have a mandate from the people to draw up its budget, which has been a continued obstacle to the Democratic Progressive Party government in the Legislative Yuan for the past three years. \n"Moreover, the government will also have the mandate to shake hands with Beijing's leaders. Once we get the authority from a majority of the people in Taiwan, the international community will have to ask whether China has the guts to sit down with to talk with Taiwan," the official said.
BUSY DAY: The same day the USS ‘Barry’ passed through the Strait, Taiwan was ending its Han Kuang military exercises, while China said it conducted an exercise near Taiwan A US Navy ship on Friday sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the ninth time a US military vessel has transited the Strait since US President Joe Biden took office in January. The USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit through the Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, adding that the journey through international waters was conducted “in accordance with international law.” “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Navy said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.” The Ministry
FRUIT SPAT: The COA said China had not given evidence for halting wax and custard apple imports, adding that it would spend NT$1bn on promoting sales of the fruit Taipei threatened to take China to the WTO yesterday after Beijing said it would suspend wax apple and custard apple imports from Taiwan due to pest concerns. China’s customs administration earlier yesterday said it had repeatedly found pests called Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug, on wax and custard apples from Taiwan. It asked its Guangdong branch and all affiliated offices to stop clearing the products from today. China had acted unilaterally, without providing scientific evidence, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference, criticizing the announcement’s timing, as it came during the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in Taiwan
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the