Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

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Referendum fails

Taiwan's first ever referendum has failed, with only 45 percent turnout for both questions. The first question, which asks voters whether Taiwan should beef up its missile defense in the face of Chinese ballistic missile deployments, received 7.45 million votes, or 45.17 percent of all eligible voters. The second question, which asks whether Taiwan should start negotiations with China, received 7.44 million votes, or 45.12 percent of all eligible voters.

In his victory speech, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said the referendum was a major step forward for Taiwan's democracy. Because it was the country's first ever referendum, Chen said, some Taiwanese people did not understand its significance. Chen also added that his government would pay attention to the people's voice expressed in the referendum by strengthening Taiwan's national defense and pursuing peace negotiations with China.

Chen also asked China take a positive view of the Taiwanese people's choice in the election and referendum. Chen asked China to remove its ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and open the door to dialogue and cross-strait stability.

Before the election, Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-ming (湯曜明) said the referendum results will not affect arms purchases from the US.

Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also emphasized that President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) government would not abandon any opportunity to negotiate with China, and that Chen election victory would

mean China must sit down with Chen at the negotiation table in the next four years.

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