Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cut travel ties to China, group urges

ISOLATION An independence group says that since the epidemic started on the other side of the Strait, stopping travel was the best way to protect Taiwan's health

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Calling it a move to abate the SARS epidemic, pro-independence groups yesterday called for the government to impose a ban on travel to China until Taiwan's entry is allowed into the World Health Organization (WHO).

"If Taiwan really wants to get rid of SARS, we should demand that the government and the legislature make a new regulation imposing a temporary ban on travel to China for all Taiwanese nationals until Taiwan has entered the WHO," presidential adviser Huang Tien-lin (黃天麟) said yesterday.

Huang made the remarks at a press conference held by the Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, a group which is now promoting the idea of Taipei severing relations with China in a bid to curb the spread of SARS in the country.

Such measures could not only reduce cross-strait interaction to minimum, but also be conducive to the future epidemic infection control by reducing the chances of viruses being carried to Taiwan again, Huang said.

The SARS outbreak has again reminded Taiwan that only by severing relations with China can it strive for stability and development, Huang said.

Huang argued that before 1987, when martial law was lifted here, Taiwan was completely cut off from China and had achieved remarkable economic development. However, following the frequent cross-strait interactions which started a decade ago, Taiwan has been invaded by several infectious diseases -- including foot-and-mouth disease and SARS -- that came here from China, Huang said.

TSU Legislator Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) said that the SARS outbreak served as wake-up call for all Taiwanese to realize the bullying nature of the Chinese regime.

If Vietnam could close its border after that country's first SARS case was reported, why can't Taiwan also temporarily cut off travel links with China?, Liao asked.

Meanwhile, the chairman of World United Formosans for Independence, Ng Chiao-tong (黃昭堂) , yesterday supported President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)'s proposal of a referendum on the issue of this country's entry into World Health Organization.

Ng said he would collaborate with more than 100 Taiwan independence groups to push for a referendum on the country's efforts to join the WHO.

"Taiwan is a democratic society. Therefore, its people should vote to express their united thoughts about the need to enter the WHO. That would be a very symbolic way to represent the will of the people," Ng said.

The KMT has said that Taiwan doesn't need a referendum to represent its people's will to join the WHO, because referenda are designed to solve internal conflicts.

Since no one in this country is opposed the WHO bid, it is needless to use a referendum in this regard, a KMT spoksman said.

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