President Hints at Referendum
Tie to China Matter for People
combined dispatches, August 29, 2000 Washington Times
Taiwan - President Chen Shui-bian assured Taiwan's people
yesterday that any change in the island's relationship with
China will have to respect the wishes of its inhabitants.
don't have a predetermined stance, but we also cannot have
a predetermined conclusion," Mr. Chen said when asked
whether Taiwan should reunify with China or declare its
option is a possibility, but it must respect the free will
and the final choice and decision of Taiwan's 23 million
people," he said at a news conference.
he did not use the word referendum, the implication was
that his government would take no major action without submitting
the issue to the people.
in Washington said Mr. Chen was promising to stand by the
vague guidelines for reunification drawn up by his predecessor,
Lee Teng-hui, who called for political change both on the
mainland and in Taiwan before the two could reunite.
survey conducted by Mr. Chen's pro-independence Democratic
Progressive Party (DPP) showed that 87 percent of Taiwan
respondents favor the status quo.
between democratic Taiwan and its giant communist neighbor
have been simmering since Mr. Chen came to power in March
presidential elections, ending more than five decades of
Chen, who returned last week from his first overseas visit
as president, said Taiwan is a democracy and needs to build
a broadly based consensus on whether to reunify with China,
the world's most populous nation with 1.3 billion people.
country, government, political party or individual can presumptuously
help Taiwan's 23 million people make a unilateral decision,"