Thu, Aug 30, 2007 - Page 1 News List

DPP sticks to its guns on referendum

`COMMON GOAL' While the DPP vowed to ramp up its referendum signature drive, the president said the nation was starting to feel pressure from China via Washington

By Flora Wang and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday vowed to carry on with plans to hold a referendum on seeking UN membership under the name "Taiwan," despite a warning from US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte that the US government considers it a move toward independence.

"No matter what international pressure it faces, the DPP will stand by the Taiwanese people. We will carry out the referendum on entering the UN," DPP Secretary-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a press conference.

"We will quicken the pace in gathering signatures to demonstrate the will of the Taiwanese people and let the world and the US know that joining the UN is the common goal of all Taiwanese people," he said.

Lin called the press conference in response to an interview Negroponte gave with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV on Monday.

In the interview, Negroponte said the DPP's bid to enter the world body under the name "Taiwan" would be a move toward changing the cross-strait "status quo" and called it a "mistake."

This was the first time that the US has warned publicly that it sees the referendum as a move toward Taiwanese independence.

However, Negroponte also emphasized the friendship between Taiwan and the US in the interview.

"Taiwan has no better friend than the United States," he said. "We strongly support Taiwan's democracy ... So, when we talk about the situation in regard to [the referendum], we talk about Taiwan in the context of a great friendship," he said.

Lin said Negroponte's remarks showed that the US' policies on China and Taiwan were "failures."

"Negroponte's comments did not humiliate Taiwan. Instead, they humiliated the US' founding spirit," Lin said. "We understand that the US was trying to remind us that it is our best friend, but we also want to remind the US that Taiwan is also the US' best friend in the Asia-Pacific region."

"Friends should respect each other. The US has its own interests, and so do we. But in this case it is impossible for us to sacrifice our national interests for our friend," he said.

"We hope to create mutual benefits for the US and Taiwan. The US should not try to please China at the cost of Taiwan's interests. A responsible government cannot agree with that," Lin said.

He said that the DPP would continue with two large-scale rallies that are scheduled to be held in Kaohsiung and New York on Sept. 15 to demonstrate the nation's resolution to participate in the UN.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) would both attend the Kaohsiung event, Lin said.

Meanwhile, Chen told American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt that, in addition to the usual pressure from Beijing, the nation was now beginning to feel added pressure from China via Washington.

Chen met Burghardt during his refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska, yesterday on the homeward leg of his visit to three of the nation's diplomatic allies in Central America.

Concerns that Taiwan was moving toward independence were unfounded, Chen told the AIT chairman.

He said there was no need to make any declaration of independence as Taiwan was already an independent, sovereign nation.

Chen told Burghardt that gaining membership in international organizations such as the UN and WHO was in line with the desires of the Taiwanese people.

The president said that there was no better name to use for membership in the organizations than "Taiwan," as using the nation's official title, the "Republic of China" created confusion.

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