President Chen Shui-bian (
"There shouldn't be a red line drawn for Taiwan's democracy," Chen said. "[The fact that there] is means] the 23 million people of Taiwan cannot enjoy full democracy like the people in the United States and other democracies."
If a red line must be drawn, Chen said it should be fixed and Taiwan would then be very careful not to cross it. But it is unfair for the people of Taiwan that somebody keeps moving the line, he said while receiving US Representative Virginia Foxx at the Presidential Office.
Chen said democracy is a basic human right and a universal value, and that referendums are part and parcel of democracy.
While the US has held numerous referendums, Taiwan did not enact the Referendum Law (公投法) until 2003, Chen said. The country's first national referendum was held in 2004, he added.
The Taiwanese right to hold referendums should not be denied, he said.
Chen said it baffled him that the US government supported the independence of Kosovo but was against Taiwan holding a referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan."
During his meeting with former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton later yesterday, Chen said that the US draws one red line, while China draws another.
"It is not that Taiwan keeps stepping on the red line -- the US' red line keeps moving," said Chen, adding that the red line drawn by the US was moving closer to China's.
Chen said a majority of Taiwanese find it hard to accept China's claim to Taiwan. He added that neither the three communiques signed between the US and China, nor UN Resolution 2758 supported such a claim.
"China's military threat and diplomatic suppression of Taiwan are like a man holding a gun with one hand and taking us by the throat with the other, and then telling us not to breathe," he said.
To protect Taiwan and maintain the "status quo" in the Taiwan Strait, Chen said Taiwan had no choice but to hold a referendum on UN membership.
As the leader of the country, Chen said he did not have the right to call off the referendum because it was the will of the Taiwanese people and a resolution passed by the Democratic Progressive Party.
Bolton said it was more of a problem for the UN that Taiwan is not a member because it showed that the organization had not achieved its goal of universal membership.
On US opposition to Taiwan's UN referendum, Bolton said that he "did not think one democracy should tell another democracy not to act like a democracy."
Bolton also criticized UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for making a "very bad mistake" by dismissing Taiwan's UN application and said he hoped Ban would find a way to correct it.
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