The Peace and Neutrality for Taiwan Alliance, led by former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮), yesterday stated its intention to hold a referendum for a neutral Taiwan in tandem with local elections next year, urging President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to sign and promulgate the amended Referendum Act (公民投票法) as soon as possible.
Lu told a news conference in Taipei that she believes that Taiwan must pursue neutrality and should not “sit idly by and wait for the end to come,” while sandwiched between China and the US.
We must make our own path and with the amendment of the Referendum Act, it is possible for the 23 million people of Taiwan to, with collective public wisdom, formulate the correct sort of public consciousness, Lu said.
Photo: George Tseng, Taipei Times
Our path would be one of peaceful neutrality, to focus on humanitarian efforts, to befriend the US and the Japanese while making peace with the Chinese, Lu said, adding that the ultimate goal is to establish friendly and egalitarian relations with other nations around the globe.
The proposal has more than 20,000 supporting signatures and was drafted in accordance with the original Referendum Act, the alliance said.
With the amendments passed on Tuesday, the proposal has reached the revised threshold.
Under the amended act, the threshold for initiation of a referendum was lowered from 0.005 percent of the electorate in the most recent presidential election — or about 90,000 people — to 0.0001 percent — or about 1,800 — while the second-stage signature threshold was dropped from 5 percent — or 900,000 voters — to 1.5 percent — or about 280,000.
The passing requirement has been amended to a simple majority vote that would see any referendum act passed if supporting votes exceed nay-saying votes and comprise one-quarter — instead of half — of the eligible voting population.
Once Tsai signs the bill, the alliance plans to submit its proposal to the Central Election Commission, Lu said, adding that the plan is to gather 280,000 signatures within six months and hold the referendum alongside next year’s nine-in-one local elections.
Former deputy minister of foreign affairs Michael Kau (高英茂) said that the Chinese “One Belt, One Road” policy and the US “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” policy is a new balance of terror.
The neutrality of Taiwan would not only maintain its safety, but also diffuse tension between the two world powers, a contribution to both Taiwan and the world alike, Kao said.
Former Nantou County commissioner Peng Pai-hsien (彭百顯) said he supports the “neutral Taiwan” concept out of concern that Taiwan’s national identity has been divided by potential resumption of hostilities with China.
In addition, Lu said that she is planning a forum to be held in March on the possibility and effects of Taiwan becoming neutral.
More than 30 experts and academics are to be invited from more than 10 countries, including the US and Japan, Lu said, adding that she is also trying to invite Chinese experts to the forum.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did