Sat, Jan 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Chen aide softens referendum threat in newspaper report

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH DPA

The Presidential Office yesterday said a statement by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) warning of a referendum to gauge opposition to Beijing's proposed anti-secession law was just an option, and aimed at expressing anger over its possible introduction.

"What the president said did not mean the government is going to hold a referendum to oppose the anti-secession law right away," Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General James Huang (黃志芳) said. "It's just one of the options to express our opposition to the draft bill."

Huang was referring to remarks made by Chen in an interview published in Japan's Mainichi Shimbun on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chen yesterday called for the nation to stand up to the proposed law.

"The enactment of the anti-secession bill would undermine the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and Taiwan should react to it," Chen said during an inspection of a military facility in Pingtung County yesterday.

In the interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, Chen said the anti-secession bill would likely prompt his government to introduce a law against annexation.

"The government is also likely to hold a referendum to make clear that the Taiwanese oppose such a law," he said. "The referendum would take place at the same time as the National Assembly elections in May for amending the Constitution."

But Chen said his plan for a new constitution was not promoting independence.

"There is no need for people to worry about it," he said. "Since there is no consensus on issues regarding sovereignty, territory, unification and independence in Taiwan, adopting a new constitution will have nothing to do with promoting Taiwan's independence," he told the paper.

In Pingtung, Chen called the proposed law the biggest threat to regional stability and peace.

Chen said Beijing had been actively engaging in "psychological, legal and media warfare" toward Taiwan and that the Tai-wanese public should take the problem seriously and respond accordingly.

He said that Chinese military power had been growing for decades and that the People's Liberation Army's budget had been growing by double-digit figures every year, which concerned neighbors in the Asia-Pacific.

"A country that relies too much on other countries will fail in war," Chen said.

Also see story:

MAC warns China on law

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