President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday struck back at former United Microelectronics Corp chairman Robert Tsao (曹興誠), calling Tsao's unification referendum proposal the same as the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) referendum proposal seeking "reentry" to the UN using the name "Republic of China."
Chen said the unification referendum Tsao proposed in his "peaceful coexistence legislation" does not conform to democratic ideals nor does it respect the 23 million Taiwanese.
"Tsao's proposal is no better or creative than the cross-strait peace advancement act proposed by People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) in 2005," he said. "They are both against independence and in favor of unification with China. They are a `Taiwan surrender' act and another version of China's `Anti-Secession' Law.'"
Describing Tsao's proposal as a "word play," Chen said that Taiwan and China are two different countries and Taiwan is not part of China nor one of its provinces.
Chen said Tsao did not need to wait until the "peaceful coexistence law" is enacted to vote on a referendum seeking unification, because he can vote in favor of the KMT's referendum proposal which is scheduled to be held concurrently with the presidential election on March 22.
The difference between the UN referendums proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and KMT, Chen said, is that the DPP's proposal is to refuse unification with China while that of the KMT is to accept it.
The DPP proposed holding a referendum on joining the UN under the name "Taiwan" because it believes that Taiwan is an independent sovereignty and that the 23 million Taiwanese have the right to decide their own future, he said.
Chen made the remarks in Taichung City yesterday morning in response to advertisements placed by Tsao in the four major Chinese-language newspapers yesterday.
Tsao said that a referendum on independence would pave the way for Taiwan's de jure independence and is bound to cause confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, adding that both sides would be in a state of war if Taiwan successfully entered the UN.
Taiwan must restrain itself and refrain from toying with de jure independence if Taiwan wants to maintain the "status quo" and enjoy de facto independence, he said.
Tsao posted the advertisements after Chen had criticized Tsao's "peaceful coexistence legislation" proposal, calling it a "Taiwan surrender act" and another version of China's "Anti-Secession" Law.
Chen also berated Tsao for proposing to hold a referendum seeking unification with China rather than seeking independence. Tsao rebutted Chen's criticism in yesterday's ad, saying that such a referendum would maintain a sustainable peace in the Taiwan Strait.
The "peaceful coexistence law" is not a "surrender act," Tsao said, because the legislation will transfer the right of choice between independence and unification from the hands of politicians into those of the people of Taiwan.
Chen yesterday said he respects Tsao's personal opinions because Taiwan is a liberal democracy, but that he cannot agree with him.
He said that only the people of Taiwan can decide on the country's future.