Thu, May 18, 2006 - Page 3 News List

`Status quo' is two independent countries: Chen

CROSS-STRAIT TIES The president told a visiting delegation from the UK that neither nation across the Taiwan Strait was subordinate to the other

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan and China are two independent countries, and that is the cross-strait "status quo" which Taiwan is committed to safeguarding, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.

"Over the past 50 years, the `status quo' across the Taiwan Strait has been that on one side, there is a democratic Taiwan, and on the other, there is an authoritarian China," Chen said.

"Neither of the two countries are subordinate to each other, because they are two independent sovereignties. Both sides have their own national title, national flag, national anthem, legislature, judicial system and military," he said.

Chen told a delegation of the British House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee at the Presidential Office yesterday morning that his administration was devoted to upholding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, as well as the "status quo."

Taiwan did not wish to see the "status quo" changed unilaterally, he added.

Chen told the delegation that the constitutional re-engineering project in which the nation was currently engaged was a difficult undertaking.

"Judging from the political situation in the legislature and the social environment, I don't think it will be easy to make constitutional changes, especially when they concern an issue as sensitive as sovereignty," he said.

However, a constitution that is no longer viable, timely and relevant must be amended, Chen said.

The key problem with the Constitution, Chen added, lay in the ambiguity of the government system, which was neither a parliamentary system such as the UK's, a presidential system like that of the US, nor the semi-presidential system practiced by France.

"Our Constitution is none of the above. It is time to make a choice among the three," he said.

No matter which government system is adopted, the issue was worth debating, Chen said.

The government had an open attitude regarding the matter, he added.

A more distinctly defined constitutional system was bound to help the administration better govern the country and upgrade the nation's competitiveness, he said.

Chen said that any constitutional reform proposal would have to conform to the amendment process.

In other words, any proposal would have to obtain the approval of three-quarters of the legislature and then the final consent of 50 percent of eligible voters, he said.

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