Thu, Aug 23, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan independent, Chen tells BBC

REALITY CHECK Dismissing claims he would declare independence, Chen Shui-bian said the real `status quo' is that Taiwan has been a country for more than half a century

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Taiwan does not have to declare independence because it is already independent, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said in an interview with the BBC, the contents of which the Presidential Office made public yesterday.

Chen made the remarks when asked if he would eventually declare independence.

"The reality is Taiwan has been a sovereign, independent country for more than half a century, and that continues to be the `status quo,'" Chen said in the recent interview, adding that Taiwan's sovereignty does not fall under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China and that there is "one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait."

Chen was also asked by the BBC to give his views on a Beijing-based political commentator's claim that the Taiwanese government would choose one of the following three dates to declare independence: the date of next year's presidential election or presidential inauguration, or the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"We do not have to declare Taiwan's independence because Taiwan is already independent. Therefore, it will not happen on any of those three dates," Chen said.

On concerns that the nation's efforts to become a "normal country" could provoke a military attack from China, Chen said that the nation "will not keep silent just because China does not like what it hears."

Asked if he was confident that the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack, Chen said he believed the US would fulfill its obligations as stipulated in the Taiwan Relations Act and come to Taiwan's aid.

However, Chen said that Taiwan could not rely entirely on others and must increase its defense capabilities, but not with the intention of engaging in an arms race.

"We do not seek to engage in war. But we must be prepared for war if we wish to prevent it," he said.

Chen said that although China views almost every step taken by Taiwan as a move toward de jure independence, "the country must carry on with its course."

Chen said it was important for Taiwan to continue building on its democratic achievements, "because democracy is our most effective `theater missile defense' against China" and vital to establishing Taiwan as a "normal country that enjoys the same rights as other countries."

In this sense, he said, Taiwan "has the full right" to participate in the international community and world organizations.

"We want to make sure that one day, the voice of our people will be heard in all corners of the world, if not today, then maybe tomorrow," Chen said. "However long it takes, we will continue striving until we become a normal country that is accepted by international society."

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