Elaborating on the thinking behind his New Year address, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday said he wanted to use the speech to clarify that only the nation's 23 million people can decide Taiwan's future.
"Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told international media that `unification' is his party's ultimate goal," Chen said.
"But I think it is not democratic at all. That's why I stressed in my speech that the future of Taiwan will only be decided by the Taiwanese people," he said.
Chen made the remarks while meeting with a delegation of former US officials.
Chen explained to the visitors that his new mindset regarding cross-strait relations, known as "active management, effective opening," is intended to lower political risks associated with investing in China.
He said that Taiwan should not become overdependent on the China market because Beijing's ambition to annex Taiwan is growing, as is the number of ballistic missiles it has deployed against Taiwan.
The US delegation was led by former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, an experienced political campaigner for several presidential candidates including Jimmy Carter and John Kerry.
Other delegates include former US ambassador to Portugal Gerald McGowan, president of the Washington Hospital Association Robert Malson, former White House press secretary Jake Siewert, former National Defense and Homeland Security spokesman P.J. Crowley and others.
Meanwhile, Chen revisited the controversy over the 2004 presidential election, and attributed his victory to the referendum that was held alongside the presidential vote.
Chen disagreed with people who attributed the Democratic Progressive Party's victory in the 2004 presidential election to the two bullets that grazed him and Vice President Annette Lu (
"I don't think so at all. The ruling party's being [re-elected] should be attributed to our knowing what Taiwan's core values are. The first national referendum held alongside the election, which promoted Taiwanese consciousness, was actually the key reason for the victory," Chen said.
The referendum asked voters whether Taiwan should strengthen its anti-missile defenses if China refuses to remove its missiles aimed at Taiwan, and whether the government should negotiate with Beijing for the establishment of a mechanism for dialogue to work for cross-strait peace.
During the meeting, Chen asked about the political situation in the US, including the possibility of a woman being elected US president in 2008.