Tue, Mar 18, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan could be a second Tibet: Hsieh

By Flora Wang, Ko Shu-ling and Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taiwan could become the next Tibet if Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were to win the presidential election, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Frank Hsieh's (謝長廷) campaign said yesterday.

Ma, however, challenged the remarks, saying Hsieh had denigrated Taiwan's status by comparing it to Tibet although Taiwan is not under the rule of China.

Hsieh spokesman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said that Beijing's bloody crackdown on Tibet was a cruel warning to Taiwan.

Beijing has suppressed Tibet despite a peace agreement signed between Tibet and China in 1951 and the fact that the Dalai Lama has abandoned the pursuit of independence, she said.

The joint communique signed by former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) [in 2005] is similar to the China-Tibet accord, Hsiao said, adding that the communique has been endorsed by Ma.

"It is a cause for concern that Taiwan could become the second Tibet if Ma is elected president," she said.

Hsieh said that if Taiwan and China were to establish a "common market," there could be an influx of Chinese nationals, adding that Beijing could later send troops to crack down on Taiwanese if they resisted the Chinese.

"We would end up like Tibet if we do not protect Taiwan," he said while visiting a temple in Tamsui, Taipei County, yesterday afternoon.

"I will be the protector of Taiwan if I am elected. I will protect Taiwan's dignity, security and national interests," he said.

Hsieh said he would allow more Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan, relax transportation links and increase charter flight services, but the nation's safety and dignity had to be protected.

He would not open the market to Chinese labor or recognize Chinese educational credentials, he said, adding that he would strengthen the crackdown on poor quality food products smuggled in from China.

The DPP caucus echoed Hsieh's comments yesterday, warning that Taiwan might become a second Tibet if Ma were elected president.

DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said the government should make efforts to support protesters and the Tibetans. He said China signed a peace agreement with Tibet in 1951, and then flooded Tibet with large numbers of Chinese immigrants, destroying its social and cultural autonomy.

Lai said Beijing's policies have caused cultural and racial conflict in Tibet, and the Chinese government had reacted by repressing protests in Tibet.

He said that Ma, who supports Taiwan signing a peace agreement with China, might make Taiwan into a second Tibet. He appealed to the public to vote for Hsieh, adding that Hsieh could better protect Taiwan's sovereignty.

At a different setting in Taipei yesterday afternoon, Hsieh said that the main difference between Ma and him was he wants to lead Taiwan to the world, but Ma wants to sign a peace agreement with China and establish a "one China market."

The public must have a say in the country's future, Hsieh said, and any changes to the "status quo" must be decided by Taiwanese people.

Nobody, not even the president, can unilaterally make the decision for the people, he said.

Meanwhile, the Taipei Society said yesterday it was worried that Ma would end the civil war between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and pursue unification with China.

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