Sat, Jul 26, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen confident of election win

NO DOUBT The president said next year's election would be a race between supporters of `one country on either side' and of the `one China' principle

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian, right, shakes hands with James Lilley, former director of the American Institute in Taiwan, during a meeting at the Presidential Office yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday told former US representative to Taipei James Lilley, who is in Taiwan to promote his new book, that next year's presidential election will be a competition between "one country on either side" of the Taiwan Strait and the "one China" principle, and that he expected to win.

"Though the opposition pan-blue alliance led the ruling DPP and its allies by more than 25 percentage points in opinion polls in April, recent polls and surveys all show that support for the opposition alliance and ruling DPP is even," Chen said.

"The trend shows that support for the pan-blue alliance is going downhill and support for the DPP is continually rising, which means that the ruling DPP has gained the advantage in the campaign," the president said.

Chen said that the DPP's confidence that it can win the election also comes from splits in the pan-blue alliance.

"Recently I have received some grassroots leaders and businessmen from the opposition alliance and they have showed sincerity in shifting their support to us," Chen said. "We believe that it is a trend and there will be more followers."

Chen yesterday welcomed Lilley and Christopher DeMuth, president the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), to the Presidential Office and congratulated Lilley on the success of his new book. He then discussed cross-strait issues, referendums and the presidential election with his guests.

Chen stressed that the main obstacle to the development of cross-strait communication was Beijing's "one China" principle, which is totally different from US government's "one China" policy.

"The US policy and stance is to facilitate a `peaceful means' of solving the cross-strait issue rather than to make `peaceful reunification' the issue's conclusion," Chen said. "What the US emphasizes is the process, not to force both sides into accepting a pre-defined conclusion."

He added that Taiwan is ready to resume dialogue with China on any issue and to realize the normalization of the cross-strait relationship on the basis democracy, peace and equality.

"But if Beijing insists of making the `once China' principle a pre-condition, then it is impossible to make any progress on the cross-strait relationship," Chen said.

"Since we can accept neither Beijing's `one country, two system' nor the `one China' principle, we predict that the main theme of the 2004 presidential election will be the choice between `one country on either side' and `one China' for all people of Taiwan," he said.

In August last year, Chen for the first time described Taiwan and China as "one country on either side" of the Taiwan Strait.

Chen also reaffirmed that Taiwan will hold referendums on important issues and reiterated his promise to the international community in his inauguration speech that the referendum will not touch on the issue of sovereignty.

He said that the public was really interested in the referendum, which has been regarded as a basic human right.

"I insist on keeping my promises of the `five-nos' in my inauguration speech. However, holding a referendum on March 20 next year or even before that date is an inevitable goal," he said.

Lilley arrived in Taipei on Thursday night for the release of the Chinese version of his memoirs: Memoir of James Lilley -- Uncovering the Truth of the Triangle Relations of Taiwan, Mainland China and the United States.

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