President sends 'reasons for referendum' letter to Executive Yuan

Laying the groundwork for Taiwan's first national referendum, which will be held on March 20, President Chen Shui-bian sent a letter listing the reasons for the referendum to the Executive Yuan Feb. 3.

In that letter, President Chen said Beijing's deployment of missiles against Taiwan constitutes a threat that jeopardizes the nation's sovereignty. This threat, he added, justifies a presidential call for a referendum under the recently passed Referendum Law.

Under Article 17 of the Referendum Law, the president may, via a resolution of the Executive Yuan Council, call a referendum when "the nation is threatened by an external force that could cause a change in the nation's sovereignty.

The president said Taiwan faces the most serious missile threat anywhere in the world. The number of missiles Beijing has pointed at Taiwan increases by one every six days and will break the 600 mark by the year 2005.

"To realize the principle of popular sovereignty and prevent China from unilaterally changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait through a military offensive against Taiwan," the people of Taiwan will decide on two national security matters by referendum, he said.

To view a translation of the letter, click here.