Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Chen calls on US government to listen to the public

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) called on the US yesterday to heed the opinion of the American public, a majority of whom were said to support Taiwan's bid to join the UN.

Citing a Zogby International poll conducted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 10, Chen said that 55 percent of Americans agreed that Taiwan should be granted UN membership.

That number rose to 70 percent when the question was whether the US should not oppose Taiwan's UN bid if a referendum on UN membership were held.

"Can US leaders turn a blind eye to opinion of their people?" Chen asked. "Can the US president and US government disregard them?"

Chen made the remarks while meeting with representatives of local charters of the Lions Club, Kiwanis International and the Rotary Club at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.

He said the US government's refusal to support Taiwan's UN membership bid did not matter, but that Washington's attempt to smother the voice of Taiwanese on the matter baffled him.

"I don't understand why they can call us Taiwan while we can't," he said. "It was the US government that changed our country's name on our passport. They can change the `status quo' but we cannot say Taiwan out loud. Why?"

In related developments, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said the proposed referendums on Taiwan's UN membership bid could endanger the country if they were not handled properly. Lee made the remarks in an interview with the Taiwan Church Press on Saturday and published yesterday.

While the Democratic Progressive Party has proposed holding a referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan," the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has suggested to "return" to the UN and join other international organizations using the country's official name -- "Republic of China" -- or any other "practical" title that would uphold the country's dignity.

Lee said that confrontation between the two parties has caused political instability and that only the "middle way" could help resolve the problem. It was a pity that most politicians seem to pay more attention to power than to the changes in the international system, Lee said.

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