Chen will not change Taiwan's status, but will defend democracy
Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) Today Chen Shuibian was inaugurated for a second term as president of Taiwan, a ceremony which several foreign diplomats attended. During his address Chen reassured both China and the United States that he would remain committed to maintaining the island's status quo by not declaring independence from the mainland.
"Today I would like to reaffirm the promises and principles set forth in my inaugural speech in 2000. Those commitments have been honored. They have not changed over the past four years, nor will they change in the next four years."
The Taiwanese president said that it was a "historic responsibility" of his in heading a committee to draft of the island's new constitution by the year 2008 in order to promote democracy in Taiwan, while at the same time ruling out that he has the separatist intentions that Beijing has accuses him of.
Leaving out polemical or angry tones, nor sounding submissive, Chen urged the "other shore" to take responsibility in improving relations between the "two Chinas". Chen said that he would commit himself to guaranteeing the safety and dignity of the Taiwanese people, even by strengthening the island's military.
While admitting that "the people on both shores share a common ancestral, cultural and historical heritage", the president made the following remarks about China:
"Beijing authorities must understand the deep conviction held by the people of Taiwan to strive for democracy, to love peace, to pursue their dreams free from threats, and, to embrace progress. But if the other side is unable to comprehend that this honest and simple wish represents the aspiration of Taiwan's 23 million people, if it continues to threaten Taiwan with military force, if it persists in isolating Taiwan diplomatically, if it keeps up its irrational efforts to blockade Taiwan's rightful participation in the international arena, this will only serve to drive the hearts of the Taiwanese people further away and widen the divide in the Strait."
In his speech Chen referred to the recent expansion of the European Union as an example of healthy diplomatic relations: "the EU has successfully integrated the common interests of the people of Europe".
The European phenomenon, he said, has led to fundamental changes in the conventional thinking of national sovereignty and territorial boundaries.In his concluding remarks Chen said that "Taiwan is a completely free and democratic society. Neither single individual nor political party can make the ultimate choice for the people. If both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment engendered upon peaceful development and freedom of choice, then in the future, or Taiwan and China--can seek to establish relations in any form whatsoever". (ThR)