President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen's remarks come as Beijing's readies to pass the law which is expected to pass on Monday during the final day of the National People's Congress -- China's rubber-stamp parliament.
"If the Beijing authorities really place their hope in the people of Taiwan -- as they like to claim -- then they should not misjudge the situation. Rather, they should try to rationally respect the Taiwanese people's free will," Chen said. "[China] should make constructive contributions in ameliorating cross-strait relations rather than attempting to unilaterally legislate laws that aim to `legitimize' a military attack on Taiwan."
PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
"In other words, the proposed anti-secession law will backfire, and end up only driving both sides of the Strait further apart," the president said in his speech yesterday at the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) provisional National Congress meeting.
Liberally paraphrasing Edmund Burke, Chen told his audience that history has often proven that evil powers will proliferate and even have a destructive effect when good and honest people choose to stay mute and do nothing.
"But when a non-peaceful dark cloud overshadows us, no one can stay clean from it," Chen said. "Should the other side of the Strait insist on passing the anti-secession law regardless of whatever results it might bring, I would like to call on a million people in Taiwan to join the March 26 `March for Democracy, Peace and Safeguarding Taiwan.'"
Chen asked rhetorically: Why was he not asking for a mere 500,000 people?
"Two years ago, 500,000 people in Hong Kong took their appeal to the streets in protest against China's intention of amending Article 23 of the Basic Law," Chen said, noting that Hong Kong has even accepted the "one country, two systems" policy.
"Hong Kong is part of the People's Republic of China, and yet they were not afraid, but dared to take their case to the streets," Chen said. "Taiwan is not a part of the People's Republic of China, and its population is three times bigger than that of Hong Kong. If people in Hong Kong can have 500,000 people on the streets to protest just one article in a bill, then can't Taiwan, opposing the 11 articles in China's anti-secession law, even do it with a million people?"
The past 10 years were the years in which China faced the smallest threat to its national security, yet China's annual defense budget has been growing at a double-digit precentage annually for the past 10 years. This was not to mention the 706 ballistic missiles deployed along China's southeastern coast within striking distance of Taiwan -- and that number is projected to keep growing at a rate of 120 annually, Chen said.
Chen added that "until China works to improve its human rights record and to implement true democratic elections, the EU has no justification for lifting its arms-sale embargo against China."
He said his administration would embark on a pragmatic approach of "reconciling but not flinching; standing firm yet avoid confrontation" in cross-strait relations.
"We'll continue our reconciliatory attitude, but we'll never compromise on our core values and basic stances. While we'll remain steadfast, we'll not be provocative or confrontational," Chen said.
"Taiwan's future must be decided by the people of Taiwan" is a firm belief upheld by the DPP, and this policy has been pivotal in steering the DPP since its founding 18 years ago, Chen said.
In related news, DPP caucus whip Lai Ching-teh (
Lai said the DPP has decided to hold the rally in Taipei, and if it manages to draw a million participants, similar gatherings will be held in the northern, central and southern parts of the country.
Also see story:
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South