Wed, Mar 19, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma won't rule out Olympic boycott over Tibet

By Mo Yan-chih and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated his call for China to end its suppression of Tibet, and said that, if elected, he would not rule out boycotting the Beijing Olympics if the situation in Tibet deteriorated.

"If the Chinese government continued its suppression of Tibetans, and the situation in Tibet worsens, I would not rule out stopping athletes from attending the 2008 Beijing Olympics," Ma said in Miaoli County.

In a six-point statement issued to protest China's violent crackdown on Tibetans, Ma condemned Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) for opposing the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) UN referendum bid and any attempts to change the "status quo" in the Taiwan Strait.

"The Republic of China [ROC] is a democratic country that enjoys sovereignty. The future of Taiwan will be decided by 23 million Taiwanese people, and we won't allow China's interference," Ma said. "Wen's remarks are outrageous and unreasonable, arrogant, dumb and pretentious. We strongly protest his ignoring the mainstream opinion of the 23 million Taiwanese people."

Wen told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that Saturday's referendums in Taiwan would change the fact that Taiwan belonged to China.

"We are opposed to the so-called referendum schemes for Taiwan's membership in the United Nations," Wen said. "That would deal a serious blow to cross-strait relations, that would harm the fundamental interests of the people on both sides, cause tensions in the Taiwan Strait and threaten peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region at large."

Matters that involved the territory and sovereignty of China should be decided by Chinese people, including the Taiwanese, and any attempts to separate Taiwan from China will not succeed, Wen said.

Ma said yesterday that he would spare no effort to apply for UN membership if elected, as entering the UN was the collective wish of Taiwanese people.

The KMT referendum calls for rejoining the UN under the formal title of the ROC, or any other "practical" title.

The DPP's UN referendum calls for joining the UN under the name "Taiwan." The KMT has called for a boycott of the DPP's referendum.

Ma yesterday also reiterated his "three noes" policy on cross-strait relations -- no unification, no independence and no use of force -- and said his policy would help maintain the cross-strait "status quo," which was supported by the majority of Taiwanese.

Ma also pledged to invite diplomatic allies to join him and extend their support for the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama, and urged Beijing to initiate talks with the Dalai Lama.

Ma's camp held a candlelight vigil last night at Ketagalan Boulevard to protest Beijing's use of force in Lhasa.

After addressing the vigil, Ma and camp members carried candles as they walked to Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall to pay their respects to a group of Tibetan exiles who began a sit-in on Monday night.

Earlier yesterday, DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) criticized Ma for making "immoral" and "cruel" comments about Beijing's crackdown in Tibet.

While the rest of the world condemned Beijing's violence, Hsieh said that Ma had claimed it was unclear who should be held responsible for the crackdown and had urged the DPP to refrain from taking advantage of the incident.

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