Mon, Mar 08, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Don't negotiate with Beijing, unificationist says

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Participants in a televised debate yesterday on the cross-strait stability framework spent little time dealing with the referendum question itself and focussed on whether the referendum should be held at all.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) debated with Timothy Ting (丁庭宇), a sociology professor at National Taiwan University, on the question of whether to pursue cross-strait negotiations.

The referendum asks: "Do you agree our government should engage in negotiations with China about the establishment of a peaceful and stable framework for cross-strait interactions in order to build consensus and for the welfare of the peoples on both sides?"

Broadcast on China Television Co (中視), the debate was moderated by Central Election Commission member Chang Cheng-hsiung (張政雄). A panel of three academics raised questions in the course of the debate.

The three panelists were: Chao Chien-min (趙建民), a political science professor at National Chengchi University, Yang Kai-huang (楊開煌), a political science professor at National Donghwa University, and Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉), assistant research fellow at the Institute of International Relations at National Chengchi University.

Although the panelists tried to guide the two debaters back to the referendum question, Chiu and Ting traded blows over whether to support the referendum during most of the debate.

On behalf of the "yes" side, Chiu said the March 20 vote is "absolutely legal and constitutional."

"Many people claimed that the referendum is illegal, yet they didn't seek an interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices (大法官會議)," Chiu said. "They simply consider themselves grand justices."

Chiu also said many opponents confused the referendum with the emergency decree.

Chiu read the contents of Article 17 of the Referendum Law (公民投票法) and pointed out that the law allows the president to initiate a referendum when the nation faces external threats to its security.

"If China steadily increasing its military budgets and weaponry and deploying 496 guided missiles targeted at Taiwan cannot be counted as a threat, then what is a threat to Taiwan?" Chiu said.

Chiu stressed that the result of the referendum will send the message to China that the people of Taiwan are against missile threats and desire peace.

"It will also help Taiwan's representatives when negotiating with China," Chiu said.

Chiu urged people not to give up their rights and to be the nation's masters.

Ting, a former president of Gallup Taiwan, representing the "no" side, said he opposed the referendum being held on the same day as the presidential election because it is "obviously a political tool manipulated by Chen to boost his re-election campaign."

Ting said he supports referendums but is opposed to the upcoming one. Ting wondered why the DPP did not hold a referendum on the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant or on reducing the number of legislators, saying this showed the DPP's intention to cheat people out of their votes.

As for the question itself, Ting said he objected resuming negotiations with Beijing because "the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] is too fearful and artful."

Ting said, as a Mainlander in Taiwan, he has witnessed how terrifying the Communist Party was because his grandfathers were killed by the party.

"Taiwan had better not provoke the CCP giant," he said.

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