Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Bush urged to back referendums

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Two members of the recently-formed Senate Taiwan Caucus have written to US President George W. Bush urging his administration to support Taiwan's right to enact a law permitting referendums, and to hold referendums that do not touch on the issue of independence or unification with China.

The letter, sent Wednesday, is the first "official" act of the caucus since it was formed on Sept. 17. Since its formation, its original 10 members have grown to 17 senators, including the top Democrat in the Senate, minority leader Thomas Daschle, and the chairman of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, Republican Sam Brownback.

"We believe that a Taiwan referendum law is a basic democratic right that should be supported by your administration," said the letter, which was written by George Allen, a co-chairman, and John Kyl, a leading supporter of Taiwan in Congress.

The letter stressed that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), in proposing the referendum law, pledged not to hold a vote on the independence-unification issue.

Chen "has made it clear that he continues to hold to the `five noes' of his inauguration speech, including the promise not to hold a plebiscite on the issue of independence," the two senators said.

"We believe that President Chen's promise meets the US concerns that there be no unilateral moves by either the People's Republic of China or Taiwan concerning resolution of the Taiwan Strait question," the letter said

Noting that the US is the "foremost champion of liberty and democracy in the world," the letter said, "We can, therefore, not afford to tell the people of Taiwan not to hold a referendum. There can be no double standard when it comes to exercising democracy."

Wu Ming-chi (吳明基), president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a lobbying group in Washington, praised the letter, noting that it was sent on the same day that Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) kicked off the referendum campaign by lighting a torch at the southern tip of Taiwan in advance of today's Kaohsiung referendum rally.

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