President Chen: Conditions met for referendum

Because Taiwan's sovereignty is threatened by the People's Republic of China's (PRC) increasing military threats, the conditions required to hold a referendum, as described in the Referendum Law, are met, President Chen Shui-bian said during a press conference Feb. 3.

President Chen said Article 17 of the Referendum Law allows the president to call for a referendum "when the nation is threatened by an external force that could cause a change in the nation's sovereignty."

With the PRC "increasing its missile arsenal against Taiwan at a rate of one every six daysÄ Taiwan faces the world's most severe missile threat," President Chen said. "Beijing unilaterally denies the sovereignty of our nation and conspires to force us to accept the so-called •one China' and •one country, two systems' formulae."

Beijing's behavior "in fact already meets conditions" described in Article 17 of the Referendum Law. "We will hold this historic referendum on March 20 to voice the will and resolve of the people in Taiwan to preserve national sovereignty and seek peace," the president said. He noted that referendums held throughout the world have "played a key role in the arduous struggle for freedom and democracy," and many "have contributed to regional peace."

"These examples illustrate that Taiwan is not alone in the pursuit of freedom, democracy, and peace through referendum," he added.

The president also announced a major initiative to build a "peace and stability" framework for cross-strait interactions. The initiative calls for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to drop all preconditions to the resumption of dialogue and to abide by the "principle of peace" instead.

The president's initiative also proposes four major issues that special envoys from both sides of the Taiwan Strait could discuss, including the establishment of a negotiation mechanism, exchanges based on equality and reciprocity, establishment of a political relationship, and the prevention of military conflicts.

To view the full text of the president's remarks, click here.