Calls for referendum on independence
On Tuesday, 3 December 1997, Taipei mayor and leading opposition
candidate for Taiwan's presidency said the DPP-party stands by its
call for a referendum to decide whether the island should declare
independence from China. ``The Democratic Progressive Party's
platform states that it should let Taiwan people decide whether they
want to declare independence,'' Taipei mayor Chen Shui-bian told
``Not any party -- including the Chinese Communist Party, the
Nationalist Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, or the New
Party -- can decide Taiwan's future for Taiwan people.''
Chen, the first opposition mayor of capital Taipei and widely
expected to be the DPP's candidate in the 2000 presidential
election, said Taiwan's 21 million residents should determine their
own future through a referendum.
The independence-minded DPP stunned the ruling Nationalist party
in local elections on Saturday, winning a majority of the 23
contested seats. On Monday, 2 December 1997, a spokesman for the
Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing made renewed threats of military
force against the island nation.
Chen said a democratic move to independence by Taiwan should be
respected by the international community. ``The Democratic
Progressive Party wants to establish a sovereign independent
Republic of Taiwan, to form a new constitution and to let Taiwan
residents make the ultimate choice about Taiwan's future,'' Chen
``Such positions have not been revised, altered or abolished,''
Chen said. Chen said he was confident that the Democratic
Progressives, a banned, underground organisation before martial law
was lifted in 1987, would soon become Taiwan's ruling party.
``Democracy in Taiwan has matured to an extent that it could
endure Chinese Communists' missile tests,'' Chen said, referring to
Beijing's war games and missile tests in the run-up to Taiwan's
March 1996 presidential elections. ``(The missile tests) could not
shake Taiwan people's willingness and determination to pursue
democracy. Why will the Democratic Progressives' becoming a ruling
party or controlling the parliament, or even winning the
presidential election, destabilise Taiwan?''
DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang said on Monday his party wanted to
establish reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with China.
As a goodwill gesture, mayor Chen said he would welcome visits by
the mayors of Beijing or Shanghai and would like to visit China as
long as he would be received as Taipei mayor.
Chen, whose office was decorated with flower bouquets attached
with notes referring to him as a future president of Taiwan,
declined to say whether he was interested in running for president.
``I haven't thought of the question,'' he said. ``I can't tell what
will happen two and a half years from now.''
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *