Tue, Mar 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Chinese dissident Cao Chang-ching backs referendum

STAFF WRITER

Saying that the referendum will serve as a great opportunity for people to voice in unison their desire for peace and opposition to China's missiles aimed at this country, Chinese dissident writer Cao Chang-ching (曹長青) on Sunday questioned the pan-blue camp's boycott of the referendum.

"These people aimed their target at a president who was elected through a popular vote as if he were scarier than the missiles aimed at Taiwan," Cao said at the "People's referendum, Taiwan's Voice" forum in Taipei organized by Taiwan Advocates.

Cao was referring to the series of marches across the nation last Saturday organized by the Chi-nese Nationalist Party (KMT)-People First Party (PFP) alliance. The marchers protested against President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), with the slogan saying "Change the President, Save Taiwan."

Cao said the threat to Taiwan today lies not with Chen but with China's 496 missiles targeted at Taiwan.

"China is a regime of bandits. As long as its 496 missiles aimed at Taiwan do not go away, it is useless even if Taiwan has changed 100 presidents," he said.

The nation's first referendum will ask voters whether they support enhancing the nation's defensive capacities should China refuse to withdraw its missiles targeted at Taiwan, as well as whether the government should hold talks with China on cross-strait peace and stability.

The pan-blue alliance says the referendum is illegal and has called on its supporters to boycott it.

Cao defended the referendum, noting that it was called in accordance with Article 17 of the Referendum Law (公民投票法), which grants the president the right to initiate a referendum on national security issues whenever the country is faced with an external threat that could interfere with sovereignty.

"What would you call them if China's 496 missiles pointed at Taiwan are not considered a threat?" Cao said. "How can you say that Taiwan's sovereignty is not being violated when China has been obstructing Taiwan's participation in international organizations such as the UN?"

Academia Sinica research fellow Joanne Chang (裘兆琳), another speaker at the forum, said taking part in the referendum will be very meaningful.

Chang said the people of Tai-wan have never been consulted about their future -- going back as far as 1895 when the Qing dynasty gave the island to Japan and as recently as the Sino-American communique concerning Taiwan.

Chang said that taking part in the referendum would show everyone that the people of Taiwan will no longer let others decide their future but will decide it for themselves.

Chang said the referendum would not only help encourage the Chinese Communists to adopt peaceful means to resolve cross-strait problems, but it would also increase Taiwan's bargaining chips in cross-strait negotiations.

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