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President Chen Shui-bian:

The people of Taiwan do not accept the "One-China Principle"

While the U.S. media was quick to pick up on Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's 6/27 statement that his Administration is willing to accept the 1992 formula "One China, respective interpretations" in dealing with cross-strait issues, the media was not so quick to note that Chen also made it clear that he and the people of Taiwan do not accept China’s current interpretation.

Chen said that China insists on an interpretation centered on its "one-China principle," which downgrades Taiwan to a local level government under the People’s Republic of China. This, Chen said clearly, is unacceptable to the people of Taiwan.

Tsai Ing-wen, chair of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, noted that Chen’s 6/27 statement was consistent in spirit and content with the remarks he made at his 6/20 press conference. There Chen emphasized Taiwan’s democratic development and the need to "respect the free choice of the people on both sides." He stated his willingness to work from the "existing foundation" reached in 1992, but went on to note that "the opposite shore does not think that …a consensus was reached."

Chen said that he hoped that the inter-party cross-strait committee he has asked Nobel Laureate Lee Yuan-tseh to pull together will "work to reach a national consensus" among the ruling and opposition parties. "This will definitely be an arduous task, since we are a democracy and a pluralistic society which allows diverse ideologies," Chen noted. "However, as long as we take the first step in making the inter-party mechanism work to reach a national consensus, we will give the other side of the strait a chance to understand the democratic and pluralistic nature of Taiwan society which is so different from theirs. The mainland authorities allow only one opinion in the entire nation, and from the top down and from the bottom up, only one opinion is allowed. But in Taiwan, we can’t do that."

When asked about a "confederation" option, Chen replied, "Whether it will work is heavily dependent upon the decision of the people. After all, it is their will and freedom of choice that must be respected. I do not feel that the future of Taiwan and cross-strait relations are my personal decisions, nor do I believe it to be within the monopoly of a particular party. The people must speak for themselves. Only the 23 million residents of Taiwan have the right to decide which way they will go in the future."

Chen also noted that President Clinton had mentioned "for the first time this year the fourth pillar of U.S. policy toward China – that such issues should be resolved with the consent of the people of Taiwan."

For text of Chen’s press conference and meeting of 6/27, see

Attached: translation of Tsai Ing-wen’s press conference. For Chinese, see

For more information, contact Michael Fonte at FAPA 202-547-3686

June 28, 2000

No. 0106

Mainland Affairs Council Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen held a press conference today (6/28) regarding the "one China" problem. The main points of the conference are as follows:

  1. The President's comments yesterday (6/27/00) were consistent in spirit and content with the remarks he made at the June 20 press conference.
  2. When both sides sent representatives to meet in Hong Kong in October 1992, they engaged in comprehensive discussion about how to solve the "one China" problem but could not reach any consensus. Hence our side suggested that "each side interpret the issue itself" and thereby temporarily put the issue aside. China then sent us a fax, expressing that it "respected and accepted our suggestion." This was the process whereby both sides had disagreed on the "one China" problem then reached a consensus that each side would orally "interpret the issue itself." "One China, with each side having its own interpretation" is the term we use to describe this process.
  3. The two sides have never reached a consensus on the "one China principle." The President proposed in his May 20th speech that both sides jointly deal with the future "one China" problem. He hoped that both sides could first discuss the future "one China" problem, then deal with the problem of whether both sides will accept the "one China principle."
  4. China made its stance very clear yesterday in a Foreign Ministry press conference. China has always explained the "one China, with each side having its own interpretation" description to be its "one China principle," and to this day insists that "there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China and that the PRC is the only legitimate government representing China." This is a stance we cannot accept.


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