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Taiwan People to Decide Its Own Fate: President Chen

Lilian Wu, Central News Agency

Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) - President Chen Shui-bian reiterated on Monday that the future of Taiwan will have to respect the free will of 23 million people on the island.

The President, in response to questions about cross-strait relations and its future direction in the first press conference since he returned from six-state, 13-day visit of the Caribbean, Central America and West Africa, reaffirmed that it will depend on the free will and choice of Taiwan people, and "no political party or any individual can make decision for them unilaterally."

Chen also spoke of the stance of the United States, saying that the US Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the platforms adopted by both parties had stressed that cross-strait issues must respect the decisions of the peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Chen said that as the president of the Republic of China, his handling of cross-strait issues must respect the consensus reached by the people, and there will be no "preset stance, preset conclusions, and any options will be possible."

He said that he is willing to listen to the views of the people as he urged all political parties to forego their ideological differences and party interests, putting the interests of the nation and the people on top of them.

He said that the US President Bill Clinton had said repeatedly that the solution of the cross-strait problem must be acceptable to Taiwan people.

A latest poll on cross-strait relations also showed that most of the people in Taiwan do not want to be a part of the mainland China, and that this is a fact, and that which the US could not force Taiwan people to accept, Chen said.

He said that the poll also showed that around 70 or 80 percent of the people are in favor of the status quo whether the fate of a future Taiwan.

But he also said that the mainland still wants Taiwan to accept its cherished "one China" principle, turning Taiwan into a part of the People's Republic of China and forcing it to accept the "one country, two systems" formula, which he said goes against the wish of most people in Taiwan.

The president also urged caution against the remarks of Beijing leaders, who said one thing to Taiwan people, and another to international community.

He said that "from the communiques that mainland China signed with more than 160 countries in establishing diplomatic relations and the information we gathered," mainland China's "one China" means the People's Republic of China.

The President again urged the mainland to show "sincerity, creativity and wisdom" in dealing with Taiwan, shelving the differences, and sit down to improve cross-strait relations to seek a definition of "one China" acceptable to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

But Chen also said that during his recent overseas visit, the mainland China has shown restraint, demonstrating that cross-strait relations have not worsened, but has become stable.

He said that whether cross-strait relations could improve or make a breakthrough will have to depend on the wisdom on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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