In a magazine interview, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) defended his tough tone toward Beijing regarding direct links, saying it would be impossible to establish such links under Beijing's "one China" principle.
"We have our own national sovereign, dignity and safety. If direct links come under `one China,' Taiwan would no longer be Taiwan," Chen told the Far Eastern Economic Review.
"It would no longer be an independent sovereign state," he said. "It would just be someone else's locality, someone else's special administrative region."
He said such an act would be equivalent to surrendering and Taiwanese businessmen would no longer receive the respect and benefits they enjoy as a result of Taiwan's sovereignty.
The interview will be published in next week's edition of the magazine, to be released on Wednesday, as a front-page story titled "Politics First, The Economy Second."
In the interview, Chen was asked whether he was afraid of economic marginalization if he doesn't move quickly to establish direct links with China.
Chen replied by saying Taiwan couldn't establish links just for the sake of it and it is Beijing that has made "one China" the precondition to resuming cross-strait communications. He said that if Taiwan accepted it, then the nation would no longer exist.
"And if there is no Taiwan, then there will no longer be Taiwanese businessmen," he said.
The president said he had to put the welfare of the nation and its people foremost and, for the time being, contacts between the two sides were already close enough.
"So it is absolutely worth it to exercise restraint, to avoid impacting the entire nation's sovereign, dignity, and safety -- and the overall interests of the nation's people," he said.
He said that for those who work in China and return only periodically, "I am sure the current transportation arrangements are not that inconvenient."
Chen also expressed his disappointment with China's new President Hu Jintao (
Taiwan's government had expected Beijing to be more friendly and sincere since Hu took office, he said.
"We thought they would bring Taiwan's 23 million people closer," Chen said, "but in fact this hasn't happened."
The president reaffirmed that he welcomed contacts, dialogue and consultation on any cross-strait issue but it must be conducted under three principles. Taiwan must not be marginalized, belittled or treated as a locality, he said.