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Chen Shui-bian: "Let Taiwan decide its own future"

Taipei, 28 July 1999

Mr. Chen Shui-bian, the DPP party's candidate in Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections, said the island should be left alone to decide its political future and appealed to the world to respect whichever path it chooses.

"The people of Taiwan have chosen to pursue a democratic system, to live in a democratic way of life,'' he said. "I believe all decisions based on democratic process should be respected. Only the people of Taiwan have the right to choose Taiwan's future and destiny.''

Chen and his party, whose founding principles seek a sovereign Republic of Taiwan, supported President Lee Teng-hui's discarding of the ambiguous "one China'' doctrine that has been the source of tension with China for decades.

President Lee said on July 9 that Taipei-Beijing ties must be conducted on a "state-to-state'' basis, abandoning the previously held anachronistic "one China'' doctrine.

Lee's move have led to xenophobic reactions, and even military threats, from Beijing.

Chen also made clear that Taiwan and the mainland were two separate and independent nations which should develop a "special international relationship.'' Unlike Lee, who still espouses an eventual union with the mainland -- albeit under a mutually acceptable democracy -- Chen said the issue should be settled by a referendum.

"Whether the two different countries across the Taiwan Strait should be unified into a single country in the future needs to be decided by Taiwan's 22 million residents through a referendum'', he stated.

Neither China's communist leaders nor its 1.2 billion people should have any say over the island's future and destiny, Chen said.

Chen, who served as Taipei's mayor from 1994 through 1998, said he would try to maintain peaceful co-existence with the mainland and boost economic links. "Relations across the Taiwan Strait should be better, not worse,'' Chen said.

Asked whether Beijing's communist leaders would accept his victory, Chen responded: "It's not the Chinese communists who are electing the national leader of Taiwan. It's Taiwan's 22 million people who are choosing their own national leader."

" It's up to Taiwan's people, not China or its people, to decide.''