Sat, Sep 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen says `Taiwan' is best name

NATIONAL TITLE The president said `Taiwan' is the most precise abbreviated title for the country, adding his comments to extensive recent debate over the issue

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN BELIZE

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Thursday said the best abbreviated title for the country is Taiwan.

"A country's abbreviated title is an important, serious matter," said Chen, who arrived in Belize on Thursday for a one-day state visit after a three-day stay in Panama.

"I feel that the best, the most precise and the most factual abbreviated term for the country is Taiwan," he said.

Chen made the remarks at a gathering with the Taiwanese press corps traveling with him.

Chen reiterated that the Republic of China (ROC) does exist, despite Beijing's diplomatic suppression of Taiwan to prevent the use of its formal national title internationally.

"The ROC used to be in China, then the ROC moved to Taiwan. Now, the ROC is Taiwan," he said.

"I don't think it is best to refer to the country as `Taiwan, ROC' because it would cause misunderstandings," added Chen, referring to the term that Premier Yu Shyi-kun used while giving a speech in Honduras during his recent visit to Central America.

Yu's use of the term instigated heated debate in the political arena over the country's national title.

"To insert a comma between Taiwan and ROC somehow more or less caused a deviation from the facts," Chen told reporters.

He said that the punctuation implied a different meaning and thus he felt "the term Taiwan, ROC is not the most optimal option" for referring to the country.

Noting that even within Taiwan there are people who do not know what "ROC" stands for, the president said that foreigners are also often not aware of what the abbreviation "ROC" refers to.

"`ROC' is also the abbreviated title for the Republic of Congo [and] the Republic of Chile," he said.

"The ROC is Taiwan, Taiwan is the ROC. When we say Taiwan, there is no one who does not know where Taiwan is," Chen said. "The more often we use it, the more it becomes clear to people."

Taking the Olympic Games in Athens as an example, Chen said that although the country was referred to as "Chinese Taipei" at the event, Taiwan should not lose its confidence and address itself by the same term domestically.

"Sometimes it is us who create problems for ourselves," Chen said. "Why make it so complicated when we can call our team ... Taiwan. We ought to have confidence that we are Taiwan."

Turning to constitutional issues, Chen stressed that the reform the government was undertaking would -- as he had said in his inauguration speech on May 20 -- not touch upon the issues of national territory, sovereignty, unification and independence that have yet to obtain majority consensus among the public.

During the gathering Chen also said that he had received a call from Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) before he left for Central America.

Chen said that Lee had mentioned to him that "to Taiwan, how to place the `ROC' is its biggest dilemma, whereas to China, whether to recognize the ROC is its biggest."

Saying that Lee would not call him on the eve of his diplomatic trip and mention the issue for no reason, Chen said that it was a "serious issue that needs to be pondered on and paid attention to."

"Only when China takes seriously the fact that the ROC exists can both sides of the Strait sit down together and discuss the `one China' issue," the president said.

In response to Chen's statement that the term "Republic of China" resulted in misunderstandings, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said it was Chen himself who creates such misunderstanding.

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