Thu, Sep 28, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Lai fires back at China on statehood

INDEPENDENT NATION:The premier disputed Beijing’s ‘one China’ claim, citing Taiwanese sovereignty, with a president and officials that are elected by its people

By Lee Hsin-fang, Shih Hsiao-kuang and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Premier William Lai reiterates that Taiwan is an independent nation during a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times

It is an indisputable fact that Taiwan is a nation and its name is the Republic of China (ROC), Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday, in response to Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan and China belongs to “one China.”

“Cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations. There is no one China and one Taiwan. Taiwan is an indivisible part of Chinese territories. It has never been and will never be a country. China steadfastly opposes any form of Taiwanese independence,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said earlier yesterday.

“A nation is composed of its people, territory and sovereignty,” Lai told a news conference after presiding over an Executive Yuan meeting on attracting investments to Taiwan. “We elect our own president and officials; the people pay taxes to the government. By any metric, Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation.”

It was a reiteration of his comment during a legislative question-and-answer session on Tuesday, when he said: “We are a sovereign and independent country and its name is the Republic of China.”

Lai’s beliefs are in line with those of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said.

“We are an independent and sovereign state whose name is the ROC. This is the president’s position, whom, I should add, was elected president of the ROC,” Hsu said.

Asked whether Lai’s position is new, Hsu responded in the negative, saying that former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) had said the same thing in the past.

“Was it not the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) official position that the ROC is a sovereign and independent nation? If any KMT member thinks we are not a sovereign and independent nation, now is the time to speak up,” Hsu said.

“The spirit of the premier’s comments are consistent with the government’s position on cross-strait policy,” Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Katharine Chang (張小月) said.

The government has consistently followed the ROC Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) and relevant laws, she said.

“The administration seeks peace, stability and good communications in cross-strait relations, but we insist that exchanges should be conducted under the premise of equality and dignity,” Chang said.

The international community recognizes Taiwan for its freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law, she added.

“The future of Taiwan and cross-strait developments must be determined by Taiwan’s 23 million people. This is the national consensus and a fact that China would do well to understand,” the MAC said.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also issued a statement repeating Lai’s comments that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation whose name is the ROC.

A majority of Taiwanese believe that any changes to the “status quo” must be democratically approved by the public, the DPP said.

“Because the TAO’s cross-strait policy position runs counter to what the majority of Taiwanese believe about their own national identity, no support for it will be forthcoming from Taiwanese society,” the DPP said.

The Chinese government should recognize the ROC’s existence as a fact and commit itself to resolving differences with dialogue, rather than obstructing the normal development of ties across the Strait for political reasons, the DPP said.

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