Public will reject pro-China tactics
By the Liberty Times editorial
Sunday, Feb 01, 2004,
French President Jacques Chirac stated during a state banquet in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao (JÀAÀÜ) last Monday that holding a national
referendum along with Taiwan's presidential election is a "grave error" that will disrupt regional stability.
On the other hand, President Chen Shui-bian (³¯¤ô«ó) indicated during his New Year's remarks on Jan. 27 that the referendum will constitute another
major accomplishment in Taiwan's democratic evolution.
In the past, Taiwan won the recognition of the world with its economic miracle and now it will win the respect of the world with its democratic
achievements, Chen said. He went on to say that he believed Taiwan could write a new chapter in history.
The referendum is a focus of attention not only in Taiwan, China, the Asia-Pacific region and the US. Against the backdrop of security threats posed
by China and as a result of media manipulation, the issue has even attracted the attention of European countries. In the future, with the approach of
the presidential election, it could become the center of global attention.
Among all the countries that have expressed views, the US is the most influential and significant. General Richard Meyers, chairman of the US joint
chiefs of staff, visited Beijing last month. During his meeting with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (¦¿¿A¥Á), Meyers explicitly indicated the US
government's opposition to a unilateral change of the status quo by either side of the Taiwan Strait.
He also told a press conference that on the Taiwan issue the US and China understand each other's stance.
If Taiwan is attacked, the US will assist Taiwan in its self-defense. Meyers said that as China continues to make massive missile deployments,
according to the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is obligated to assist Taiwan in its self-defense.
Meyers is a top US military commander. His comments in Beijing were open and unequivocal. It was also an international declaration that constituted a
pleasant development at a time when the US-Taiwan relationship was characterized by the pan-blue camp and by some local media as being at the "lowest
point" over the so-called referendum "controversy." Meyers' comments were an accurate piece of "preventive national defense" on the part of the
In other words, Meyers has clearly informed China that the US has not changed its policy of supporting Taiwan's self-defense pursuant to the Taiwan
Relations Act as a result of its disapproval of holding the referendum.
In addition, during Meyers' visit to Beijing, Chen announced the topics for the referendum. US Secretary of State of Colin Powell responded that the
US neither opposed Taiwan's national referendum nor endorsed it, stating that Chen has shown flexibility on the issue. At the same time, Powell
reiterated that both Chen and the Chinese leaders are "good friends" of the US, and that both the US-Sino and the US-Taiwan relationships are in
Obviously, China's intention to exploit the US to pressure Taiwan has not been accepted by the US government. This proves that the US-China-Taiwan
relationship is back in equilibrium.
Powell's comments have relieved the pressure and suspicion of the US over the national referendum.
As the head of the alliance of democratic countries of the world, the US government cannot and should not have double standards for democratic values.
All its concerns about the referendum arose from China's deliberate twisting of the referendum as "incremental Taiwan independence."
China on the other hand also uses the threat of force as a bargaining chip to engage in extortion of the US and Asia-Pacific countries, and now even
European countries such as France. It also uses international comments to sing in unison with the pan-blue camp, calling the referendum "dangerous,"
building up an impression of looming danger and threats in the Taiwan Strait.
This was the reason for the concerns of the US and numerous Asia-Pacific countries. Fortunately, after Chen announced that the national referendum
will be held based on the "five noes" principles, the controversy cooled.
From the standpoint of its global strategy, the US is very concerned about the referendum because Taiwan's geographical location ties it to the
Asia-Pacific region's stability and development. Peace in the region in turn is closely tied to the political and economic interests of the US in the
Each year, the volume of US trade with the region takes up 70 percent of the country's foreign trade. About 97 percent of the energy needed by Japan,
which has signed a security treaty with the US, relies on imports, and more than 20 Japanese oil tankers travel through the Taiwan Strait each day.
Therefore, neither the US nor Japan could deny that the seas surrounding Taiwan are key for their economies, trade and energy. The strategic
importance of the Taiwan Strait is evident. It goes without saying that the US and Japan are very concerned about the referendum.
In view of the US government's declared stance of neither endorsing nor opposing the referendum, we know that the referendum is not what the pan-blue
camp has declared it to be -- a provocation of China, nor a cause of war.
Actually, referendums are a key democratic index and facilitator of democracy for democratic countries.
Unless democracy is defeated or threatened, unless a country is subjected to totalitarianism or authoritarianism, referendums are a norm for
democratic countries and a pillar that strengthens democracy.
It is truly regrettable that at a time when Chen had only made a policy declaration with respect to the topics of the referendum and before any formal
proposal had been made, the pan-blue county commissioners and mayors had already gotten ready to boycott the referendum, openly encouraging people not
to cast votes in the referendum. We feel very disappointed by such conduct on the part of pan-blue local government heads.
After all, the Referendum Law (¤½¥Á§ë²¼ªk) was formally enacted by lawmakers across party lines, including pan-blue lawmakers.
If the pan-blue camp has any doubts about the legality of the referendum, it should resolve them through legal channels. Instead it is encouraging
local government heads to boycott the referendum before turning to the judicial process.
This indicates the pan-blue camp's "support" for the law was nothing but an act.
This not only goes backward on democracy but also help China stifle democracy. China will be the one benefitting.
The pan-blue camp blindly follows China in many respects. It does not protest the Chinese military and missile deployments. Yet it refuses to support
a referendum for peace that does not even deal with the independence and unification issue.
If we let them have their way, no future policy that displeases China can ever be implemented. When that happens, how does that make Taiwan different
from Hong Kong and Macau?
Therefore, we want to call on the pan-blue camp not to obstruct the referendum out of party interests and hurt democracy in the process.
If it does, it will be despised by the people.