Wed, Sep 05, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Pro-Taiwan groups blast US comments

MEETING POINT While activists differ on whether Taiwan is already an independent state, both groups agreed that the US should not interfere in the UN referendum plan

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

An independence activist waves ``UN for Taiwan'' flags during a protest outside the American Institute in Taiwan yesterday.


Comments by US officials on Taiwan's international status received a mixed response from independence activists, with some staging a protest outside the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday and others thanking the US government for telling the truth.

The Taiwan United Nations Alliance led a coalition of legislators and pro-independence groups in staging the demonstration in Taipei to protest against the US government's opposition to Taiwan's UN referendum plan.

Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City Councilor Yen Sheng-kuan (顏聖冠), who doubles as the alliance's secretary-general, said that Taiwan is an independent country and the US must respect the will of its citizens.

Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), vice chairman of the alliance, said that comments by US officials ignored the right of Taiwanese and overlooked the fact that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign state.

"The referendum on UN membership is a giant step toward democracy and the United States must not bow to the unreasonable demands of China," he said.

Dennis Wilder, senior director for East Asian affairs at the National Security Council, told reporters last Thursday that the statehood of Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC), is an undecided issue, and as such it is not qualified to be a member of the UN.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said on Aug. 27 that the US government opposes Taiwan's plan for a UN membership referendum because Washington views such activity as a move toward a declaration of independence for Taiwan.

In contrast to the protesters, the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign "thanked" the US government for pointing out the fact that Taiwan is not a state, but also criticized its opposition to the referendum plan.

Peter Wang (王獻極), head of the group, said at a press conference in Taipei that Taiwanese must wake up and realize that Taiwan and the ROC is not a state at the moment.

"The ROC was dead in 1949 when the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] lost the Chinese civil war and fled to Taiwan," Wang said.

"However, the Republic of Taiwan is yet to be born and Taiwan is not yet the name of the country. We must step up efforts to establish a Taiwan republic," Wang said.

Wang, however, said that the US government had no right to prevent Taiwanese from exercising their democratic rights.

To protest against US opposition to the UN referendum, Wang said his group would hold a rock concert on Friday evening at the 228 Peace Park.

On Saturday, the group will lead a march calling for the US to respect the right of Taiwanese for self-determination and to support the nation's UN bid.

The march will begin at 4pm at the intersection of Renai Road and Guangfu S Road near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and end at the AIT headquarters.

In related news, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday criticized the KMT's UN referendum plan as an election ploy.

"The KMT's proposed referendum on UN membership is a false issue," Chen said.

"The KMT originally opposed holding a referendum concurrently with elections," Chen said.

"But now, it does not dare oppose plans for a referendum because they want to capitalize on the issue to help Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) win the presidential election," Chen said.

The president said he believed the pressure the KMT had received from Beijing over the UN referendum was no less than what he received from the US.

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