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President Chen Shui-bian's Press conference

August 28, 2000

Acting Secretary-General Chen’s Remarks:

Mr. President, Deputy Secretary-General Chien, Ladies and Gentlemen from the Media:

Good morning!

First of all, I would like to welcome each and every one of you to the Office of the President for today’s press conference.

As you know, this press conference was originally scheduled to be held on August 26, when the president returned from his trip to the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa. However, Taiwan was struck by Typhoon Bilis, the strongest typhoon to have hit Taiwan in a decade. The president was very concerned about the damage and, therefore, decided to return one day earlier. President Chen was back in Taiwan at 3:00 in the afternoon on August 25, and immediately visited the disaster areas in Nantou County. On the second day, the president continued his inspection tour in the Hualien and Taitung areas. This is why the press conference was postponed until this date, and we would like to apologize to the media for any inconvenience caused by the postponement.

I am sure that all of you are interested in hearing the results of President Chen’s first overseas “trip of democracy, diplomacy, and friendship” since his inauguration, as well as the president’s views on major domestic issues. Now, let us welcome the president to make some opening remarks, after which he will answer your questions.

President Chen’s Opening Remarks

Acting Secretary-General Chen, Deputy Secretary-General Chien, and Friends from the Media:

Good morning!

The 13-day “trip of democracy, diplomacy, and friendship” has ended successfully. I want to thank our friends in the media for their company and advice, as well as EVA Air for its chartered service. I also want to thank our colleagues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our embassies and overseas representative offices for their meticulous preparations. I especially want to thank the United States and our six diplomatic allies for their kind arrangements facilitating this visit. Of course, my special appreciation also goes to the legislators from different parties as well as the business leaders taking this trip with us.

This tour has proved that the worries and anxieties expressed prior to the trip were unnecessary. During our trip overseas, the domestic political situation was stable and the government functioned smoothly. The cross-strait relationship, a source of concern, did not become tense or worse because of an overseas trip by our head of state. Many had expected some unfavorable comments, actions, or conclusions emanating from the PRC’s Beidaihe conference, but this view proved to be unfounded. Although we cannot say much about accomplishments on this trip, for me personally, for Taiwan, and for the Republic of China, we gained many valuable experiences. For many people, this trip provided an opportunity for adjusting and changing their concepts or ways of thinking.

This trip has been comforting in some ways and touching in others, and there has, of course, been some change in my own thinking. In the past we did not have a very good understanding of our allies. This time, we had the opportunity to truly understand our nation’s diplomatic situation and further realize the efforts and contributions made by our foreign service people on the diplomatic fronts. What gives me joy and comfort is that I have withstood the rigors of the journey. Before we arrived home, I especially asked our accompanying medical team how many people had sought their help during our 13-day trip, and I was told that more than 60 people, of which 60 percent were members of the media, had visited the medical team. I did not have to see a doctor on this trip, nor did I trouble any member of the medical team. I left home happily and have returned safely. Although I suffered from jet lag or was a little unaccustomed to the food during the trip, I am pleased to say that I have remained active and healthy.

Before the trip, we never imagined that these friendly countries would give us such a warm welcome and so much attention. We were very deeply moved. Take President Hipolito Mejia of the Dominican Republic for example. While accepting congratulations from the foreign delegations [after his inauguration], he asked me to join him in receiving congratulations. President Mejia also introduced me to other delegations. Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman further surprised us by making an exception to see us off at the airport. It was unprecedented. Even when President Clinton visited Nicaragua there was no such exception. Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez not only invited us to his home for breakfast, but also introduced us to his party’s presidential candidate. There were other things that deeply impressed us. When President Idriss Déby of Chad learned that the place we were supposed to stay lacked some necessary facilities, he especially let us stay at his residence. He then moved to stay at the presidential office. We learned later that Mrs. Déby had sent some people to renovate and decorate the residence so that we would feel more at home. Now, I would like to again express my heartfelt respect and gratitude to all of them for their hospitality.

I would especially like to mention how people here had described conditions in those countries. In fact, such things as sanitation, food, or housing were not as worrisome as imagined or reported. I live a very simple life and feel at home wherever I am. I am not finicky about food or the place I live in. However, before we left for the trip, many misleading reports frightened the delegation members. Nevertheless, they also enjoyed their visit to these countries. Once we were there, nothing unusual happened. I believe we did not make an effort to understand these countries. Despite the fact that they have been our friendly allies for many years, we were not familiar with them, and there were misunderstandings and barriers. If we carefully compare our life here in Taiwan with that in these countries, we have to admit that we are very lucky. We should cherish our achievements and quality of life, none of which was easily attained. In spite of the fact that we are often dissatisfied and the government has not yet performed as well as expected, we are truly one of the luckier nations in the world. As a member of the international community, every nation is great in its own way, and every people is indispensable. Every one is equal and important.

In today’s world, despite such differences as skin color or the level of development, all countries are important and equally worthy of respect. Gambian President Yahya Jammeh said that, although his country is small, it has a loud voice. Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore said that his country has nothing, but work. I believe that every nation and race has its strengths worthy of respect. Last night, my wife told me that when the first lady of Paraguay visited Taiwan, my wife hosted a banquet to honor her. During the banquet, the visiting first lady told my wife that the Paraguay government would definitely speak on behalf of Taiwan, for the people of Taiwan joining the United Nations and many other international organizations. My wife felt so concerned that we do not have the international status and recognition enjoyed by Paraguay. They have national dignity and confidence, whereas we must rely on other nations to speak for us, to fight for the justice we deserve. Similarly, when we visited three nations in Central America and three nations in West Africa, these countries all reiterated that they would speak for the ROC and ask for justice. Are we truly more advanced than other countries? Don’t we have weaknesses compared to other nations? Indeed, some nations are small or poor, but have loud voices. Where is our voice? I personally feel that a state visit gives us a good opportunity to realize the importance of international status and recognition as a nation.

Many people here do not realize the national flag is important or that the national anthem means much. But, on May 20, when A-mei led in singing the national anthem, she touched the hearts of the audience. I believe many people shed tears and realized that we could sing the anthem of Taiwan so beautifully. For decades, many people did not appreciate the importance and beauty of our national anthem. When I stood on the rostrum at national airports with leaders of friendly nations and listened to the national anthem of Taiwan played by their bands, I was deeply moved and even stirred with pride. Only then did I feel the importance of our country, the importance of our country’s being recognized, and the importance of our country’s international profile. I do not think all of my compatriots could fully understand and appreciate my experience, or feel the same way I did.

During this trip, we not only proclaimed our country’s sovereignty and consolidated friendships with our diplomatic allies, but also put Taiwan on the world stage. We want to see the whole world and let the whole world see Taiwan and the democratic achievements and economic prosperity resulting from several decades of effort by the 23 million people of Taiwan. We want to offer humanitarian assistance and compassion to the world, which is our responsibility and privilege. This is what Mr. Alexander Shafer, president-designate of Kiwanis International, said this morning when I met him and his wife: “Serving people is not a responsibility but a privilege.” If we help other people, it is not a responsibility. It is a privilege. However, if we do not even do our duty, can we enjoy the privilege of helping others? I really cannot imagine why some people do not agree to our providing humanitarian assistance and economic cooperation. I often think about my own background. As a child from a poor family, without the assistance of relatives and friends, or money that didn’t need to be returned, or money borrowed from friends or relatives with no or low interest, could there be an ROC president today named Chen Shui-bian? It was because many people helped me to stand up that I was given the opportunity to serve the people. This is the spirit of the “Son of Taiwan.”

Half a century ago, the United States assisted us in building Hsiluo Bridge. When I was in the second grade, I had the chance to drink my first cup of cow milk. It was delicious, and it came from the United States. To me, having never tasted cow milk, that first cup was assistance from the US and provided by my school. Can we say that this was “money diplomacy” by the US? American international assistance allowed Taiwan to overcome many difficulties and stand up. Now, we are standing tall and have the opportunity to repay the global community. Why are we so stingy? Clearly, the United Nations suggests that foreign aid should account for at least 0.7 percent of a country’s GNP. Currently, the average percentage is 0.24. How about Taiwan? Our percentage is only 0.13, half the average percentage of the UN. Isn’t it too low? Perhaps some people think that if we cannot implement our own social welfare programs, how can we help other countries? We want to ask, are the American people satisfied with their social welfare programs? Is every person taken care of one hundred percent? I don’t think so. Several decades ago, the US gave so much care and help to weak countries in this world, including Taiwan. Did the American people complain about that? Were they opposed? I have faith in the responsibility of the global community and in humanitarian care and aid. This is an inescapable fact: we are a member of the international community and must do more. We can do better.

We traveled to many countries during this trip. We saw the Gambia’s vegetable cultivation area and found that the vegetables planted are exactly the same as those we have here in Taiwan. This is the result of the hard work of our agricultural technical mission stationed there. Growing vegetables might not mean as much to Taiwan, but it means a lot to the people of the Gambia. We also visited the Bagre farm area in Burkina Faso and saw thousands of hectares of lush rice paddies beside the dam. The irrigation ditches there are like the Chianan Irrigation System near my hometown. However, developing the land is easier said than done, as this area was covered by stones that had to be exploded before cultivation was possible. So many members of our agricultural technical mission stayed there for three, five, or even ten years without getting any preventive inoculations or taking any medicine. They work silently and contribute what they know to that place.

In Chad, we saw that Taiwan Bridge will be opened to traffic next year. Chad has long been divided into north and south by a river. Over the past 40 years, there has only been a rickety one-way bridge connecting the two sides. Now the two-way Taiwan Bridge will be opened to the public next year, and people from the north and the south of the country will be able to cross the bridge from both directions. As Chad President Idriss Déby said, Taiwan Bridge not only connects south and north Chad, but also Chad and Taiwan. It is a bridge of friendship between Chad and the ROC. To us, it costs not much, but to Chad, it is something that makes their lives so much easier. So, why not extend a hand of friendship?

Travel in these countries is very inconvenient. Before I left Chad, I had breakfast with our eight ambassadors stationed in African nations. I told them, “The eight of you are like the eight fairies crossing the sea. You eight fairies crossed the South China Sea and then the Indian Ocean to Africa. As frontline members of the diplomatic corps, you are the greatest and have made wonderful contributions to your nation. You should each receive a medal.” Some of them told me that they had spent seven or nine days traveling to Chad from their respective offices before they could meet me. They could not fly to Chad directly, as we did by chartered flight. Before we went on our trip overseas, we took medicine and immunization shots. But they said that they had no vaccinations or medicine and would seek help only after they fell ill. It was the same for our agricultural specialists. And aren’t the medical teams just as impressive? It seems that we have difficulty supplying the required agricultural people. The older generation has done very well, but the younger generation doesn’t seem to be doing as well. Can we consider “foreign service in lieu of military service”? Can we promote a kind of “peace corps”? Let’s take students in our agricultural colleges for example. If they are willing to join a “peace corps,” we can offer them foreign language and professional training, including courses at the foreign diplomacy college to be established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When they graduate, they can join the “peace corps” or agricultural technical missions. They will not have to serve in the military. The “peace corps” can be an alternative to military conscription, and an alternative foreign service. We can offer them a high salary, and perhaps they can serve five years instead of two. After five years, they might wish to remain on the agricultural technical missions and even start a new career overseas. These are areas where we can dedicate our efforts. I believe that many of our young people have such aspirations. Helping others is helping yourself. I raise this proposal, so we can encourage each other.

Finally, I must emphasize that although diplomacy is important, domestic affairs are even more so. As the president of the nation, one must see and feel the suffering of the people. Even as I was in Africa, my heart was at home in Taiwan, and I was concerned about the safety of the lives and property of our people. As a traveler, who is far from home, I was worried about the typhoon ravaging my country, and not until I was assured that everything was all right could I be free from anxiety.

As a head of state visiting abroad, I was required to follow international protocol. With the understanding of the counterpart, some adjustments in the schedule could be made. Idriss Déby, the president of Chad, told me it was best not to pressure myself. If he were in the same situation, he would make some adjustments to the schedule and return home at an earlier date. I felt especially comforted by the fact that government affairs had not been adversely affected by my trip aboard. The crises were smoothly managed. As Typhoon Bilis was approaching, I called Premier Tang and Vice Premier Chang, waking them up at midnight and repeatedly exhorting them to make good preparations for the typhoon. After the typhoon struck, I made calls and inquired about the damage. Without the most up-to-date information and assurance of the current situation via reports every two hours, my worries could not be reduced. During the typhoon, I was in direct contact with the vice president, the premier, the vice premier and the chief of general staff eight times, and found my mind constantly on the situation in Taiwan. I reached a decision to change my schedule and return at an earlier date. Very soon I arrived home, saw our people in the disaster areas, and shared their pain. But I am grateful to the outstanding performance of our servicemen, police, firefighters, and personnel in the weather, transportation, electricity, and water supply bureaus and other departments. They were the first to respond and reacted immediately. I would like to again express my thanks and praise for their courageous work. I wish to thank Vice President Lu, Premier Tang, Vice Premier Chang, Chief of General Staff Tang, and related agencies for their efforts. They did an excellent job managing emergency situations.

Yesterday, we handled the Kaohsiung-Pingtung Bridge incident very well. Since the Pa-chang Creek accident, we must be on full alert and must not make any excuses or be slow to respond. We must mobilize to save lives. I could sense that these two incidents have mobilized everyone. However, if like yesterday, proper precautions had been made, I believe many unfortunate situations and accidents could be minimized. If we can prevent disasters, why shouldn’t we?

Today is the 100th day of the new administration. In the past three months, we have had the excuse of being the “new driver on the road.” But from now on, we cannot use it as an excuse anymore. We must “become experienced drivers” to meet our citizens’ great expectations. We must work to solve the serious, chronic problems in a short period of time. We must implement reforms and pursue progress. I believe we do not have time to waste or procrastinate.

The neophytes in government must now enter a new stage of experience. Such numerous trials as eliminating “black gold” politics (organized crime and government corruption), improving the social order, investigating the murder of navy procurement officer Captain Yin Ching-feng, stimulating the economy, maintaining public safety, raising the quality of life and environmental standards, conducting reforms, promoting a multiparty task force, strengthening the communication and coordination mechanisms between the Legislative and Executive Yuans, and, finally, achieving rapprochement between political parties and coordination between the ruling and opposition parties all lie ahead to challenge and continually test us. I would like to reiterate that in the short time of four years, I will do my best. I would like to remind all members of the new administration to cherish this time and make the best of it. Running for a next term is not on our mind, but rather fulfilling our duties and doing a good job in governing our country. All government officials and I will show our willingness to do things right during this term, which is far more important than thinking about running for the next term. In the coming four years, all government officials should be on high alert. No laziness, hesitation, or shirking responsibility is allowed in the new administration.

If we cannot learn fast enough to become experienced and conduct reforms within a short period of time, the people will not understand. If anyone in the cabinet is unable to carry out reforms well, I am sorry to advise that they must be replaced. We should not have any idea that we can leave things to chance. There is no guarantee for anyone to stay in office for four years. If one is not suitable in a position, the person will be replaced. I think every cabinet member should have high self-expectations and push themselves to excel. My philosophy is quite simple: “I trust people I appoint, and I don’t appoint people I distrust.” I am willing to give members of the government an opportunity to fully demonstrate their abilities. If anyone is unable to stay in step, does a poor job, or has no team spirit, I must replace him. We will take the initiative and make an all-out effort in everything, so that we won’t fail the expectations of our fellow citizens.

I will not let you down and will work hard. In the future, I will devote more time to domestic affairs. Once we have stabilized cross-strait affairs and foreign relations and enhanced the morale of our military forces, I will spend more time and energy on domestic affairs, especially in the areas of economic revitalization, administrative efficiency, and the elimination of “black gold.” I will not compromise because of ballots, nor will I be hypocritical or wishy-washy in order to be elected the next term, otherwise, not only the people of Taiwan but also I myself will not be satisfied. Because of the general dissatisfaction, we have room for improvement. And because I am dissatisfied, I will work all the more.

Thank you all once again. I hope our friends from the media will not hesitate to give me their comments and criticism.

Q.1 During your stay abroad, there was a major domestic issue regarding the chairmanship of the National Unification Council. The chairman is the president, according to the Statute for the Establishment. What is your opinion now? On the other hand, acting Secretary-General Chen thought that, since the Guidelines for National Unification were made in 1989, it is time to revise them. What is your personal opinion? In the future, how can we distinguish between the functions and responsibilities of the National Unification Council and those of the Multiparty Task Force?

A: I sincerely appreciate everyone's concern and comments about the National Unification Council, the Guidelines for National Unification, and related issues. In my inaugural address on May 20, 2000, I already publicly declared that so long as the Communist regime does not use military force against Taiwan, the National Unification Council and the Guidelines for National Unification will not be abolished. This statement has not changed. Although there are no questions regarding abolition, there are other issues that we must face, which cannot be avoided. As there are still many people who are confused about these issues, I would like to take this opportunity to give appropriate explanations and guidance.

For example, some people misperceive the National Unification Council as the highest policy-making and ultimate decision-making agency on cross-strait policy. In reality, however, the National Unification Council is simply another consultative body, much like the Multiparty Task Force, the National Human Rights Consultation Task Force, and the Science and Technology Consultation Task Force. All of these organizations are merely consultative agencies to the president. Thus, the National Unification Council is not the final decision-making body on cross-strait issues, nor is it the highest policy-making agency.

Another popular misconception is the belief that the National Unification Council is a sacred and inviolable entity. In actuality, the Establishing Guidelines for the National Unification Council proclaimed by the president in 1990 have been continuously revised and were changed in 1993, 1995, and 1997. Since the Establishing Guidelines for the National Unification Council have already been revised three times, they are obviously not sacred or inviolable.

Members of the National Unification Council serve for terms of one year, and those one-year terms have now been completed. Naturally, if the council continues to exist, we must either reappoint its members or appoint new ones. Before the Establishing Guidelines for the National Unification Council are abolished and before any of its articles are changed, the second article of the Establishing Guidelines states that the president should serve as the chairman of the National Unification Council. This is a fact. However, I must point out that the council is but one of several consultative agencies to the president, none of which are led by the president. The person in charge of the Multiparty Task Force is Lee Yuan-tseh, the president of the Academia Sinica; and the convenor of the National Human Rights Consultation Task Force and the Science and Technology Consultation Task Force is Vice President Lu. In other words, it is not an absolute necessity for the president to serve as the chairman of a consultative agency, committee, or task force. Thus, I have no prejudices or biases with regard to serving as the chairman of the National Unification Council. I am willing to listen to different views.

However, the Multiparty Task Force is currently being actively promoted. The first meeting will be held soon, and I will be participating to give my encouragement and support. After all, the first article in the Establishing Guidelines for the National Unification Council clearly states the reason why the president established the National Unification Council: "Under the principles of freedom and democracy, to accelerate national unification, conduct research, and provide consultation on guiding principles." Although its purposes are quite clear, has it really been carried out? Under the principles of freedom and democracy, the purpose for establishing the National Unification Council was to accelerate national unification. Was this policy objective carried out under the principles of freedom and democracy? Did they get the people’s consent and majority support? Were the procedures discussed from top to bottom? Many different opinions have arisen on this subject that need to be further discussed. Indeed, there are currently many different domestic views and ideologies with regard to national status, cross-strait relations, and Taiwan’s future, and some of them are diametrically opposed to one another. As the president of a democratic state, I must review all of these differing opinions.

Thus, we hope that the Multiparty Task Force can establish a consensus from top to bottom amongst the government, political parties, and the public with respect to cross-strait relations, Taiwan’s future, our national status, and various ethnic problems. I think that the smooth and efficient operation of the Multiparty Task Force should be our current priority and fully support President Lee Yuan-tseh’s direction for its future operations. I am here to appeal to our countrymen, all parties, and all factions, to support and participate in the Multiparty Task Force. The Multiparty Task Force is not even operational yet. Do we really want to brush it aside so quickly to return to the disputes of the National Unification Council? We need to examine and face many things. For example, did the past government follow the Guidelines for National Unification and the National Unification Council? I think that many things have become too holy. In fact, the main issue is not the National Unification Council or the Guidelines for National Unification; rather, the main issue is on practical, day-to-day operations. What can we do?

Today, many people can already travel to the Chinese mainland, to Shanghai or Beijing, and talk with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party about cross-strait relations. Why is it that we have no way to shake hands at home, to meet with each other to discuss national affairs, to form a consensus between our government and political parties on cross-strait relations? Is it possible that domestic politics are more important than the Chinese Communists and Zhongnanhai? Thus, I sincerely hope all parties and factions can eliminate their prejudices to discuss national affairs, as it is not only our right to do so, but our obligation and responsibility.

Q.2 Just now, you spoke of having high expectations of the new government and emphasized your willingness to replace government officials who were not performing well. Just before your return home, however, there were already rumors of a possible partial Cabinet reshuffle in light of some of the criticism it has received. Attacks have been made on everything from the Cabinet’s financial and economic policies to its crackdown on elected representatives with ties to the underground. All have left society with the impression that the Cabinet “roars a lot of thunder but provides little actual rain.” Do you think there is a need to reshuffle the cabinet at the present time and, if so, why?

A: I emphasized earlier that I have a very simple philosophy when it comes to appointing personnel: “Appoint a person without any doubts, do not appoint a person if there are any doubts.” Since the government officials have already been appointed, this means that I do not have the slightest doubt about their abilities. I have given them an opportunity to perform over the past three months, and I am ready to give them even more opportunities in the future. For instance, I hope that the financial and economic task force recently established by the Executive Yuan will take a vigorous and aggressive approach and not give society the impression that it is in disarray or is lacking in direction with its economic and financial policies. I consider this to be very important. The government is like an enterprise: we are more concerned with team performance than individual performance. If an individual performs well, but the team does not, then the individual is not any better off. However, if the team performs well, then the individual will naturally be in a good position as well. A good team needs good members. Thus, I believe we should give our new government—the Tang Cabinet—more time and greater opportunities. Regarding the problems that have occurred in the past three months, we could possibly say that we were "new drivers on the road." However, we cannot use this rationalization to shirk our responsibilities in the future. Society has very high demands, and my expectations are no less. I sincerely hope that the new government, the Tang Cabinet, and all of the ministries and commissions will devote their full efforts to their work. I would like to remind our ministers and heads of commissions that three months have passed since the new government took office. If they have failed to push on with their work because of personnel problems or because subordinate department heads have been unable to coordinate their work in a united effort, then I am sorry to say that adjustments must be made. They have to be made—without hesitation, hypocrisy, procrastination, or delay. I hope that our ministers and heads of commissions realize that if they want to thoroughly implement the ideals and reforms of the new government, then “everything will depend on human effort.” Each staff member must put “heart” into their work; if the heart is not in it, then adjustments must be made to the staff. I hope that our ministers and heads of commissions will review this matter thoroughly and make the necessary personnel adjustments. Otherwise, we will not be able to proceed with certain matters, and by then, it might be too late to lay blame.

Q.3 The US State Department recently issued a report on the human rights of foreign laborers for various nations. It listed the ROC as having the second worst record in the world. Such a record is bound to damage our diplomatic efforts. What is your opinion on this report?

A: It is vital that the ROC performs a serious self-examination and reviews both the criticism and advice being given. However, I have said that establishing a nation based on human rights will be the goal of the new government. Furthermore, I have consistently encouraged everyone to let the ROC on Taiwan become a new landmark for human rights in the 21st century. While striving for this ultimate goal, though, it is important that we sincerely confront all of the criticisms being made to our freedom and human rights record, as such criticism usually signifies that our measures are insufficient. Thus, I will ask the Executive Yuan, the Council of Labor Affairs, and all other relevant government agencies to work together and thoroughly review the human rights situation of foreign laborers working in the ROC, and I will demand that they make changes to improve those conditions.

Q.4 Mr. President, when you were in the Dominican Republic, you reiterated your resolution to dig into the Yin Ching-feng case even though this would rock our nation to its very foundation. Is there any progress in the case? And to what level of the military officers will you investigate? Will it shake our national foundation to solve this case?

A: In order to stabilize our national foundation, we must investigate the Yin Ching-feng case and other relevant scandals to the end. If anything, these cases are the ones that will shake our national foundation. If these cases are not solved, they will remain a pain to the military. We can not let the majority of the honest and nation- and people-loving servicemen bear the humiliation for the misconduct of a minority of people in the military.

At the press conference on July 31, I issued an official order to set up a special investigation committee for the Yin case and other relevant scandals. State Public Prosecutor-General Lu Ren-fa was appointed the convener of this committee. The Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, and Ministry of National Defense are also responsible for investigating this case. The committee has been working very hard during this past month. Papers and files relevant to the case are so voluminous that the committee couldn’t even read them all in one month’s time.

I would like to affirm the efforts of every member of the committee, including the prosecutors, members of the Investigation Bureau, police officers, and relevant units of the military. Every one of them worked very hard in cooperation during the past month. This is not easy. Nor is it easy to find new clues for the case and to make new breakthroughs in this almost “invisible” case. I am very pleased that we have found something new and made some new breakthroughs for the case. We did not disappoint our fellow countrymen. I have to respect the special investigation committee as well as the independence of the judicial system. Eliminating organized crime and government corruption is the common aspiration of everyone. And we have shown our respect for the independence of the judicial system, when we were cracking down on the organized crime and government corruption practices in the past. Similarly, we must show the same respect to the judicial units as we did when they cracked down on organized crime and government corruption. Therefore, I told the special investigation committee and Prosecutor-General Lu not to have any concerns when investigating the Yin case. No matter how high and broad the level might be and no matter whether those involved are still in office or retired, we have no boundaries or limitations for investigating this case. I told them not to worry about anything, just track it down to the end, and not to disappoint our fellow countrymen. If we can have any progress and new breakthroughs for such a dying case, then we can handle any case. If we can solve the most difficult case that seems to all to be almost impossible to solve, what case can’t we handle?

I believe that this is just the beginning. The investigation on the Yin case and other relevant scandals only demonstrate our will and resolve to eliminate organized crime and government corruption from our society. There are still some very old cases that were already given up by many people. For those cases, we cannot comfort ourselves by saying that it has been so many years, all evidence has disappeared, and there is no way to solve them. I believe that those who were involved and have passed away will bless us from heaven. I am confident that our fellow countrymen will also give their full support to my new government, as well as to the special investigation committee for the Yin case, to crack down on organized crime and government corruption with a comprehensive effort.

Q.5 At your last press conference, you mentioned that you would personally go to the KMT building located opposite the Office of the President and invite KMT Chairman Lien Chan to attend a special “Bian-Lien meeting.” Now that the KMT has already given its formal response, has any schedule been set for such a meeting? If successful, will a similar formula be applied to a future meeting with Chairman James C.Y. Soong of the People First Party?

A: I sincerely appreciate all of the comments and advice that have been offered to both myself and the new government by people from all walks of life, including different political parties and the media. We especially appreciate the comments given by the KMT and have listened to their opinions with an open mind. Indeed, with respect to a few matters, we would particularly like to invite KMT Chairman Lien Chan to meet with us and discuss them in person, as I hope he can provide us with further insight into his opinions. Nevertheless, we only have one nation and one national interest. I do not believe any single political party would place their party's interests before or above it. Similarly, I do not believe any political party would place their own interests above those of the people, and the KMT is no exception. For the sake of our nation's future, the future of cross-strait relations, and the many initiatives and reforms that are taking place in domestic affairs, I again invite Chairman Lien, with utmost sincerity, to meet with me. If he does not have time now, I can wait. If he cannot make it today, I will wait until tomorrow; if he cannot meet me tomorrow, I will wait until the day after; if he cannot meet this week, I will wait until next week; and if he doesn’t have time this month, I will wait until the following month. I can afford to wait until he has time for me to visit him. If the KMT headquarters is not an appropriate place for such a meeting, that is fine. We can choose a different location. Nothing—neither the time, place, form, or conditions—is preordained. I sincerely represent both the nation and the government when I ask for the opinions of Lien Chan, chairman of the largest political party, the KMT.

Naturally, this same sincere invitation is extended to the leaders of all of Taiwan's primary political parties. In fact, we have already made similar consultative arrangements in private. I really do appreciate the opinions offered to us so far, and hope that Chairman Lien can feel and accept my unreserved sincerity.

Q.6 The Legislative Yuan is currently discussing whether to postpone the approaching general interpellation session. Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng has said that you favor postponing it. If so, why?

A: I exchanged views on this issue with the heads of all five Yuans prior to my tour, and we agreed that the interval of time between the last general interpellation, which lasted until the end of July, and the next one, which would begin as soon as the legislators meet in September, was probably too short. That is, if we had the general interpellation immediately after the next administrative report in early September, it might be too close to the previous one, which lasted for a month and was just completed at the end of July. Was postponement possible? The reasons for postponement had nothing to do with Premier Tang or his health. The only consideration was the length of the previous general interpellation and the fact that it lasted so late into July. Was it suitable or necessary to have another right away in September? I brought the issue up merely as an exchange of views with President Wang of the Legislative Yuan, and he thought the request reasonable. Whether it will be postponed, however, will depend on inter-party negotiations and communication between the Legislative Yuan and Executive Yuan. We will respect the opinions of all political parties, and we do not have any predetermined opinions. We simply raised the issue and are discussing the facts.

Q.7 It was the position and hope of the previous administration that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan could be unified someday under democracy. However, you have previously mentioned that unification is but one of several options. Does this imply that unification might not be possible?

A: The new administration has already clearly explained this issue. As I said in my inaugural speech on May 20, I hope the leaders on both sides can deal with the future question of “one China” using their wisdom and creativity under the basic principles of democracy and parity. I believe that the future development of both cross-strait relations and Taiwan itself will follow this direction. Regardless, though, the free will of the people on Taiwan must be respected. That is to say, no country, no government, no political party, and certainly no individual can make a decision for the 23 million people on Taiwan without their consent. In the past, US President Bill Clinton stated quite clearly that any final resolution to the cross-strait situation must be made with the consent of the people on Taiwan. Similarly, the US presidential candidates from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have adopted the same position in their respective campaign platforms: that the will of the people on Taiwan must be respected. I mentioned earlier that the first article of the National Unification Commission Establishment Guideline is to speed up the unification process. Does this article comply with the principles of freedom and democracy? Are the people on Taiwan choosing to unite with the Chinese mainland out of their own free will? Is unification with the Chinese mainland a choice being made by the 23 million people on Taiwan under democracy? I firmly believe that democracy, freedom, and human rights are all universal values, and thus no country, government, political party, or individual can violate them. As a new leader in Taiwan and as president of this country, I must seek a consensus of the people, including everyone in the government and the general public itself. We do not have any preconditions, nor can there be any—thus, anything is possible. However, any decision must conform to the choice of the 23 million people on Taiwan and abide by the principles of freedom and democracy.

Q.8: You mentioned earlier the difficulty of forming a domestic consensus on cross-strait policy. Recently, Qian Qichen, the vice premier of the Chinese mainland, gave a new interpretation of the “one-China” principle. In the second point of this new interpretation, he says, “both mainland China and Taiwan belong to one China.” What is your response to this statement? What information do you think he is trying to convey to Taiwan?

A: It is especially important that we remind everyone to be cautious of the different remarks made by mainland Chinese officials, as it is virtually impossible to know for sure whose statements are true and final and who actually represents their government’s policy. The remarks to visiting groups from Taiwan are often omitted from formal documents and press releases on the mainland, so how accountable are such statements? Furthermore, we have noticed that many international media, research institutes, and experts have expressed a difference between what the Beijing authorities say in their statements to domestic audiences and what they say internationally with regard to Taiwan. Indeed, what they say to the people on Taiwan is often contrary to what they tell the international community. If the so-called “one China” principle, definition, or meaning has changed, then let me ask, what about the “one China” repeatedly mentioned in their communiqués with over 160 nations that have formal diplomatic relations with the Chinese mainland? The recent information we have regarding Beijing’s orders to their foreign embassies still refers to a so-called “one China”—the People’s Republic of China. If today, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are both part of “one China,” this “one China” refers to the People’s Republic of China, and the People’s Republic of China is the sole, legitimate government for all of China—if none of this has changed in their policies and communiqués, and if we merely listen to their self-serving statements and believe them, then aren’t we placing ourselves in a very dangerous position? The Beijing leaders have different statements for different groups of people. However, we will continue to act with sincerity, creativity, and wisdom, hoping that Beijing will eventually respond in kind. We wish to follow the spirit of dialogue and exchange and set aside controversies, so that the two sides can meet and talk to improve cross-strait relations, while seeking a mutually acceptable definition of “one China.” I wholeheartedly believe that such a definition cannot be unilaterally decided and manipulated by any single nation, political party, or people. We must meet and discuss it together. The outcome is true and final only when it is acceptable to both sides. If it is just a unilateral proposition imposed by one side on the other, then it is not compatible with democracy, freedom, and parity. Thus, we would like to encourage and commend the Beijing authorities to seek a mutually acceptable meaning and definition. Thank you!

Q.9 You mentioned earlier your expectations of the new Cabinet and your opinions on its performance. How do you feel about Vice President Lu’s performance during your 13-day trip overseas? Also, what is your view on her idea of relocating or renovating the Office of the President?

A: I would like to express both my appreciation and approval of Vice President Lu’s performance during my absence. Indeed, not only did Vice President Lu perform well, but everyone—Premier Tang, all of the relevant ministries, and everyone working on the front-line during the typhoon period—did their jobs very well. Thus, I would like to express an equal amount of appreciation and approval for their performance.

Regarding the Office of the President, we believe the building is still in fairly good condition. Thus, there is no need for renovation. Besides, I do not think renovating the Office of President should be a priority for the new administration. I would rather improve the living standards of our people, government efficiency, and the investment environment for factories and businesses, than renovate the Office of the President.

Q.10: You just mentioned that the future for both the people on Taiwan and cross-strait relations should respect the will of the people on Taiwan. By what means do you hope to understand the will of the people? You also said that such a problem should be discussed at a roundtable meeting attended by the leaders of all three major political parties and a special Multiparty Task Force. However, some political parties are not giving their support to a Multiparty Task Force. Under such circumstances, do you think that a consensus reached by the two mechanisms just stated can really represent the will of the people? Or do you think that other means should be considered, such as a plebiscite, to truly reflect the will and desires of the people? Indeed, if the two mechanisms reach completely different conclusions, can using a plebiscite be completely ruled out?

A: A public opinion poll conducted yesterday indicated that more than 80 percent of the people on Taiwan believe we should join the United Nations. This is news that the Chinese communists do not like to read. In fact, not only do they dislike it, but they have also consistently boycotted and stymied any attempt made by the ROC to participate in any international organization, including the United Nations. This poll also revealed that between 70 and 80 percent of the people on Taiwan prefer to maintain the status quo, regardless of what direction cross-strait relations take in the future. The Beijing authorities, however, want us to accept their “one-China” principle, which would downgrade Taiwan as a part of the PRC. They also want us to accept their so-called “one country, two systems” formula, which would make Taiwan another Hong Kong or Macau. All of these things obviously violate the will of the majority of the people on Taiwan.

We are encouraged, however, by the remarks made by both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States—and especially those made by President Clinton—that any final resolution to cross-strait issues must respect the will of the people on Taiwan. Public opinion polls currently indicate that most of the people on Taiwan do not wish to be a part of the Chinese mainland, and this is a fact that neither the US government nor the US people can force us to change. Thus, during my transit through the US, Chairman Richard Bush welcomed us on behalf of the US government and people. At that time, he told me that the US government expressed its utmost support and admiration for our new government’s management of cross-strait relations. Consequently, we do not feel that current cross-strait relations are deteriorating, but rather, believe that we are still in control of the situation.

What we must do now is show our wisdom and creativity and make further breakthroughs and improvements. However, cross-strait relations are not a unilateral problem, but a bilateral one. On my overseas trip, we were also very aware that the Chinese Communists were showing restraint in their normal military exercises and at their Beidaihe meeting. I think both of these actions convey a strong message, and we would like to view that message from a positive perspective. Former President Lee Teng-hui could not resolve the cross-strait issue during his entire twelve years in office. However, if the new government can stabilize the situation in a mere 100 days, we think it is definitely possible to carry cross-strait normalization even further. The most important thing is to reach a domestic consensus on the matter. We must have absolute democracy from the bottom up. Above all, we need to have domestic unity. I often say that the Beijing authorities play an important role in current cross-strait issues, but we ourselves play an even more important role. Whether cross-strait issues can be smoothly resolved will depend on a domestic consensus. I would like to listen to the opinions of more people, and I sincerely hope that after the Multiparty Task Force begins operations, that it will be easier to reach a domestic consensus. Once again, I would like to call upon every political party to eliminate their ideological differences and party interests and give the interests of the nation and the people their first priority. I am confident that such a change in thought will have a positive impact on the future of both Taiwan and cross-strait relations.