Vice President Annette Lu (
Lu made the remarks while elaborating on President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent remarks regarding a referendum when she was hosting a luncheon in honor of Lilley, who is currently the senior researcher of the American Enterprise Institute think tank.
Chen has said that holding a referendum will be unavoidable, and that it would be held even if it meant losing the presidency.
Lu noted that after three decades of democratic development, Taiwan has moved toward liberalization and democratization, but has never been able to hold a referendum, although such a vote is an indispensable part of human rights and democracy.
She noted that Chen publicly declared support for a nuclear-free homeland and voiced his opposition to nuclear energy in his inaugural speech on May 20, 2000.
His announcement of the suspension of the one-third completed Fourth Nuclear Power Plant later that year triggered a political storm, and the president later was forced under tremendous pressure to restart the project, Lu said.
But the president had promised to listen to the voice of the people, and this is the reason why he wants to hold a referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
Lu stressed that another reason that compels the president to speak out for a referendum is the obstruction of China, which hindered the World Health Organization (WHO) from sending experts to Taiwan to help contain the spread of SARS earlier this year.
In addition, China's delegates to the WHO's annual conference publicly humiliated Taiwan by saying that the country had no right to join the organization.
The Chinese officials also lied publicly that China had taken care of the people of Taiwan. Beijing's delegate Sha Zukang's (沙祖康) had asked, "Who will care for you Taiwanese people?"
Lu claimed that this was a slap in the face of Taiwan.
She said that the president felt that he had heard the voice of the people, but not so Beijing, so that he had to let Beijing know unequivocally what Taiwanese people want via a referendum.
"We didn't ask for more, we were only asking for the basic right that a member of the international community should enjoy, " the vice president said.
Lu said that the US had been preoccupied with the war on Iraq, and she hoped that Lilley will now convey how the outbreak of SARS had changed the views of Taiwan people on cross-strait relations and China when he returns to the US.
Lu stressed that before SARS, some had regarded China as a friendly country and a vast market, but many people have now been awakened to the truth.
"The biggest difference between Beijing and Taipei is that we attach great importance to human lives and human rights, while Beijing ignores human lives and doesn't care about human rights, " Lu said.
Lu expressed the hope that friends in the US will "understand fully and respect Taiwan's feelings."