Fri, Dec 12, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen urges US to look at its democratic roots

BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS The president said the hostile US reaction to his plan for a referendum does not conform with the principles upon which the US was founded

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) urged the US yesterday to review its founding spirit, saying that to unilaterally put Taiwan under the threat of ballistic missiles and depriving the Taiwanese people's right to freedom from fear does not conform to the fundamental values of the US.

"Every country in the world is equal and all human beings are equal," Chen said. "It is not right that while almost all people in the world can enjoy the freedom from fear, only the people of Taiwan are denied this basic right.

"According to the founding spirit of the US, China's military threats and deployment of missiles would not be regarded as a matter of course," Chen said. "According to the US' founding spirit, the resolution and efforts of 23 million people in Taiwan to seek peace and democracy should not be regarded as acts of provocation."

Chen said he had realized the meaning of the US' founding spirit during his visit to New York this October. He said this spirit is the pursuit of democracy, the love of freedom, the respect of peace and the defense of human rights.

"The significance of the `defensive referendum' is to protect Taiwan's status quo and to continue to develop its achievement of carrying out these four universal values," he said.

rights roundtable

Chen made the appeal while meeting with Scott Horton, president of the International League for Human Rights, who arrived in Taipei earlier this week to attend a human rights roundtable organized by Academia Historica and the preparatory office of the National Human Rights Museum.

"The reason the league gave the 2003 Human Rights Award to the 23 million people of Taiwan is because it believes all the people of Taiwan should enjoy basic human rights," Chen said.

"People of Taiwan have the right to say no to China's missiles and we can clearly express our wishes to avoid war," Chen said.

"We propose such a humble request to exercise our fundamental right," he said. "If there still is someone trying to restrict us, we will feel regret. It is discrimination against the 23 million people of Taiwan."

US President George W. Bush had expressed concern about the referendum movement after a closed-door meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) on Tuesday.

"We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo," Bush said. "The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally, to change the status quo, which we oppose."


Chen and Premier Yu Shyi-kun on Wednesday both pledged the government's resolve to hold a national referendum on the date of the presidential election, March 20, to ask China to renounce military action against Taiwan and to withdraw its ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan.

Chen reiterated yesterday his plan for the referendum and appealed to the US to support such a democratic and peaceful measure.

Horton praised Chen's firm stand to go ahead with the referendum. He said the referendum was a basic human right of people in a democratic society, which should be respected, protected and valued.

"I think that President Bush said the wrong thing," Horton said.

"During his recent visit to London, Bush pointed out explicitly that democracy, human rights and self-determination are the three pillars of peace," he said.

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