Taiwan has to face the reality that the decision about whether to officially declare independence cannot be made by Taiwanese alone, given China’s possible reaction and US opposition, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) said.
Speaking on a radio show hosted by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) on Sunday, Chiou, a former National Security Council secretary-general and vice premier under Chen, said it is a “cruel reality” that the decision is not one Taiwanese can make by themselves, because “we have to consider the current international situation, as well as China’s possible reaction.”
However, Chiou also said the ultimate policy goal for the Democratic Progressive Party is to push independence.
The goal is clearly stated in the party charter, he said, adding that its independence clause should not be taken lightly, as pursuing independence is the party’s ultimate ideal and dream.
Nevertheless, Chiou said that “now is not an appropriate time” to declare independence.
“In reality, we have not yet reached a consensus [on the issue] within the country, and if we declare independence now, it would only raise tensions,” he said.
Declaring independence now might not only lead to a possible Chinese invasion, but would also not be supported by the US, he said.
He made the comments after Chen asked him to elaborate on remarks he made during an online seminar with US academics organized by Georgetown University on Oct. 12 last year.
Chiou had said that no “realistic politician” in Taiwan would declare independence and “Taiwanese are realistic and won’t elect crazy people” as their president.
He also said during the seminar that not even Chen, who is regarded as the most pro-independence president in Taiwan’s history, sought to declare independence during his two terms in office from 2000 to 2008.
Chen on Sunday said he proposed the idea of “one country on each side” of the Taiwan Strait during his presidency to clearly distinguish Taiwan and China as different countries.
“Over all, we took two steps forward [toward independence] and one step back” due to a lack of international support, Chen said.
Chen said Taiwan’s future should be decided by the people of Taiwan, adding that he is not sure when the goal can be reached, but now is not the time to give up.
Chen was released from prison on medical parole on Jan. 6, 2015, after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for money laundering and bribery. He began to host a radio show on Kaohsiung-based station Smile Taiwan in January.
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