Comparing Beijing's oppression of Taiwan to a villain holding a man at gunpoint, President Chen Shui-bian (
"The way China treats us is like a man holding a gun with one hand and shoving us into a corner with the other," he said. "He seizes us by the throat and tells us not to breathe. What do you think we should do?"
Taiwan must not give up, Chen said, adding that the nation's 23 million citizens will not surrender without putting up a fight.
China cannot expect Taiwanese to feel an affinity for an authoritarian regime that relies on tactics of military intimidation and diplomatic suppression, he said.
Chen made the remarks while receiving a US delegation of Republican elite at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.
Chen told the foreign guests that cross-strait relations were unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future as the public would not abandon the nation's sovereignty.
While Beijing considers Taiwan a province, the Taiwanese will never accept or agree to Beijing's demand that Taiwan relinquish its sovereignty like Hong Kong or Macau, Chen said.
"Such fundamental differences make it very difficult for both sides to establish a new political relationship," Chen said.
Next year's presidential election will be crucial, Chen said, as the nation has arrived at a crossroads.
The public must elect leaders who will lead the nation on the correct path, guided by Taiwan-centric principles, and shun those who embrace surrender by propagating for a "greater China," he said.
The election will also be a battle between those who believe in Taiwan and have a positive vision for the nation's future, and those who have no confidence in Taiwan and take a negative view of its prospects.
On the issue of Taiwan-US relations, Chen called on Washington to review its policies concerning Taipei, adding that its attitude toward Taiwanese democracy is a crucial factor in determining the nature of future relations between the two countries.
"There is a blind spot in Taiwan-US relations. There is a line there and we don't know how to deal with it yet," Chen said. "We are caught in a dilemma. We don't know whether we should continue down the road of democracy, or stop right here and turn back."
While the US government and US President George W. Bush have repeatedly praised Taiwan's democratic reforms as a success story, Chen said it is impossible to enjoy democracy with inhibition.
Taiwan's future and the direction of cross-strait relations must be decided via the most democratic means -- a referendum, he said.
"But the US government sees it differently," Chen said. "The US government must review and reconsider this key issue if it wants to see its relations with Taiwan develop in a sound direction."
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