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Financial Times Interview with President Chen

  • Date:2006-11-03

November 3, 2006

Financial Times: Mr. President, on your recent trip to the South Pacific you mentioned that during the 20 remaining months of your presidency you intend to do the work of 40 months, and you also raised three policies. Could you explain in a bit more specific terms how you intend to implement these three policies --constitutional reform, joining the United Nations under the name of Taiwan, and dealing with party assets acquired under the authoritarian era?

President Chen Shui-bian: I believe this is a matter of what I've said--that we have to stick to the two overarching directions of insisting on Taiwan-centric consciousness and realizing social equity and justice. Therefore, we must continue to promote three big movements: First, we need to expedite a new constitution for Taiwan that is timely, relevant, and viable; second, we must apply for admission to the United Nations under the name of Taiwan; and third, our people must seek the return of KMT assets acquired through unfair, unjust means during its former period of rule.

These are not slogans, but matters of great importance. They are goals toward which we must continue striving in order for Taiwan to become a normal country. Of course, some people say this a mission impossible, but I feel that nothing is impossible. As long as we have ideals, as long as we have goals, and as long as we persist, never give up, and give it our all, we can succeed in everything. So, hoping to accomplish 40 months of work within 20 months represents our will and determination. There have been many things in the past that were often deemed to be impossible missions, yet we often managed to turn the impossible into the possible in a very short period of time. For example, within one short week, we were able to rename the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport as Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. This took a mere week to accomplish. If we never take action, nothing can be achieved even in six years. But if we act, we can reach our goal in a week.

The same goes for mothballing the National Unification Council (NUC) and the Guidelines for National Unification (GNU). From the time I proposed making such a move in my hometown in Tainan County on January 29 of this year until I signed the executive order on February 28, it took only one month's time. If no action had been taken, a few years would have passed without anything being achieved. Once we decided to act, it took only a month to do the job.

By the same token, I recall that in connection with the matter of the right of referendum, Legislator Trong Chai struggled for it from the time he resided abroad until after his return to Taiwan, which earned him the nickname "Referendum Chai." In Taiwan, he fought for another 13 years to no avail. At the celebration of the Democratic Progressive Party's founding on September 28, 2003, I pronounced three wishes for the DPP for the year 2004. One of them was that we would complete the first-ever national referendum in Taiwan's history.

At the time, everyone considered this to be a mission impossible. We did not even have a referendum law then, so how could we hold a referendum? Two months after I pronounced my wish, we already had our first-ever Referendum Act, having enacted it. Soon thereafter, on March 20, 2004, we held Taiwan's first national referendum. From declaring our intent to hold a referendum, to completing the referendum [legislation], to the time we actually held a referendum, it took no more than six months, or just half a year.

As another example I might give in explanation, on May 20, 2004, in my inaugural speech, I specifically expressed the hope that before the end of my second term in 2008, we could amend the Constitution to abolish the National Assembly and incorporate the right of referendum [for ratifying constitutional revisions] into the Constitution.

Abolishing the National Assembly and incorporating [an Additional Article on] the right of referendum into the Constitution were also considered missions impossible. I had initially thought that we would have to work hard for four years and not be able to accomplish these goals until the end of my term in 2008. Who could ever have imagined that the constitutional revisions would be completed by June 7, 2005, and the National Assembly would finally become a thing of the past? We have given the people the final say on constitutional amendments. Only by ratification through national referendum can proposals for constitutional revisions passed by the Legislature become effective. We spent only one year to do this.

Therefore, whether it was one year, half a year, one month, or seven days, we have been able to make possible missions that everyone considered to be impossible. So as I stated earlier, these three movements aimed at pursuing Taiwan-centric consciousness and realizing social fairness and justice are most definitely possible.

FT: we observe that you have started to discuss some of the possible contents of a new constitution, including the definition of the "existing national boundaries" and the concept of a "Second Republic" constitution. Will you get even deeper involved in the discussion of the constitutional contents? So far you have only raised the question of whether these two things should be discussed. Will you start giving some answers and reveal your views on these issues?

Chen: If you check Resolution 1007 passed by the DPP plenary meeting on October 7, 1990--which is part of the DPP Charter, you will see that it explicitly states that the de facto sovereignty of our country does not extend to China or "Outer Mongolia" and that, henceforth, our constitutional system as well as domestic and foreign policies should all be formulated on the basis of our de facto territory.

Therefore, regarding the scope of de facto sovereignty or de facto territory, we have already stated very clearly that it does not include China or "Outer Mongolia." Yet, Article 4 of the existing Constitution stipulates that the territory should be defined in accordance with "the existing national boundaries." And what is meant by "the existing national boundaries"? We have sought to solve this problem by getting a constitutional interpretation, meaning to do so by obtaining an interpretation of the Constitution by the Council of Grand Justices rather than by amending the Constitution. To our surprise, however, Interpretation No. 328 of the Judicial Yuan's Council of Grand Justices delivered in 1993 stated that the definition of national boundaries is a matter of major political significance which therefore should not be explained by an organ of government that exercises the judicial power of interpreting the Constitution. Thus, it was impossible to fulfill our hope of solving the problem through judicial constitutional interpretation rather than by revising the Constitution.

The question, however, remains: What does "the existing national boundaries" actually mean? Do these boundaries really encompass China and "Outer Mongolia"? Mainland China is currently the territory of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and "Outer Mongolia" has become a country known as "Mongolia," and both are UN members. If we advocate that our existing national boundaries encompass the territories of these two nations, isn't that tantamount to infringing on the sovereignty of UN member states? So defining them that way is extremely absurd, as well as extremely impractical, as the international community certainly does not accept this.

As a matter of fact, there is also much controversy as to whether "the existing national boundaries" cover Taiwan. Very clearly, the national moniker according to the Constitution of the Republic of China is the Republic of China, which was founded in 1912. Taiwan, however, came under Japanese colonial rule in 1895, and the ROC did not include Taiwan when it was born.

Similarly, the precursor of the ROC Constitution--the Five-Five Draft Constitution formulated in 1936--did not include Taiwan within the existing national boundaries, as Taiwan was still under Japanese colonial rule at the time. Therefore, up until the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty [with Japan at the end of World War II], as many people have said very clearly, Taiwan was not turned over to China, and the view that Taiwan's international status is undetermined is quite well-known to many of us.

It is therefore quite clear that "the existing national boundaries" of the ROC do not encompass Taiwan. Whether we want to resolve the problem of "the existing national boundaries" in the present Constitution--given that this provision does not conform with the current reality, and in view of the great controversy surrounding it--is of course an extremely serious issue.

>From the time the Democratic Progressive Party passed Resolution 1007 until recently, with many people having joined the discussion about the scope of Taiwan's territorial sovereignty, this has become an extremely serious, complicated, and sensitive issue, but also one that is extremely important. It is also not surprising, therefore, that some individuals have recently proposed the idea of a "Second Republic," which in practice means freezing the current Constitution and adopting a new constitution for Taiwan.

Describing it from a different angle, freezing the Constitution of the Republic of China means maintaining a link between it and the new constitution, rather than completely cutting it off. This is an extremely interesting idea that is worth examining, and everyone can discuss whether to act on it.

This is also why people believe that the preamble to a Second Republic constitution should deal with the issue, to decide whether the scope of application of the Second Republic constitution include China or "Outer Mongolia," or simply be limited to lands within the current scope of sovereignty--Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu.

Would it be feasible, without altering the current Constitution's General Provisions--including the matter of territory and the existing national boundaries covered in Article 4--to somehow deal with the issue by defining the scope of application of a Second Republic constitution for Taiwan? Could it be acceptable to everyone? I think that this is very interesting food for thought.

FT: This sounds extremely complicated. I remember when you first proposed setting up a new constitution, including referenda in the constitution and other issues, this triggered strong reactions and even some criticism from the US and China. These two criticized that even if you did not violate the letter of your past commitments, you violated the spirit of certain promises. Does the construction you are presenting now not run the risk of violating past commitments? You seem to be proposing the complicated concept of a "Second Republic Constitution" in order to avoid having to amend the existing constitution. Will that work?

Chen: This issue is indeed very complicated. Whether or not it is viable is open to discussion, and whether or not the concept of a Second Republic is the best choice or best version for our constitution can likewise be deliberated. In Taiwan's democratic and pluralistic society, we allow room for discussion. Former Senior Advisor to the President Koo Kwang-ming has expressed to the media what a Second Republic means to him, what it includes, and how it could be promoted in the future. All these can be taken as reference.

FT: You have mentioned that you have little more than a year left in office but still have so much work left, including some "mission impossible". So what will your role be in implementing these policies? You have said there will be "movements". But a movement needs to be started, needs a leader. You have said the Second Republic concept is worth discussing. How will you help push this discussion and these movements?

Chen: A few moments ago, I gave a few examples. Rectifying the name of the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport, ceasing the function of the NUC and application of GNU, [holding our first] referendum, and enshrining in the Constitution the right of referendum--these all required the collective efforts of everyone. I can lead, I can guide, and I can help promote, but in the end, it all depends on everybody's united effort, regardless of political affiliation or faction. Nothing is impossible. When a social momentum has built up, when the strength of the people is united, and when society has matured, we think that many impossible missions will, in the end, be completed one by one--and even earlier than we imagined. During the remainder of my term, therefore, I of course will pursue the ideal goals of these three great movements. This will be difficult, but we must do what is right, and walk the right path.

FT: I would like to take a look at what impact these plans will have on cross-Strait relations. When you first took office, you made the pledge of the "Five Nos". Later, the fifth no seems to have gone missing. Most recently, you tend to prefer the pledge of not changing the status quo. So does the fact that you are no longer explicitly repeat your Five Nos pledge reflect some change in your commitments?

Chen: The "Plus One" part of the "Four Noes Plus One" no longer exists since we ceased the function of the NUC and application of GNU. The staff under the Office of the President who handled affairs related to the NUC have returned to their original posts. As to the operations of the NUC, no meetings have been convened in a long time and no budget has been allocated for its use. Therefore, the "Plus One" part of the "Four Noes Plus One" has, along with the NUC and GNU, ceased to be in force, leaving only the "Four Noes."

With regard to relations between Taiwan and China, we feel that it is necessary to maintain the status quo, and avoid any change to the status quo. However, we feel that China is already changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. China refuses to renounce the use of force against Taiwan. Furthermore, it has passed its so-called anti-secession law, and is carrying out military preparations in three stages for an invasion of Taiwan--including completing the establishment of contingency-response combat capabilities by 2007, upgrading its combat capabilities for a large-scale engagement by 2010, and ensuring victory in a decisive war against Taiwan by 2015. China is changing the status quo of peace in the Taiwan Strait.

In addition, China has launched the so-called "three alls" foreign policy strategy, which is to snatch away all of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, obstruct all our activities, and squeeze all our room for activities in the international community so that Taiwan will be isolated from the world. This in fact is changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Initially, Taiwan had formal diplomatic relations with over 60 countries. Now only 20-odd countries maintain ties with us. This shows that the status quo is being changed and undermined by China.

Similarly, China is carrying out a united front campaign against Taiwan which I summarize as a "fivefold transformation" policy--to belittle, marginalize, and localize Taiwan, delegitimize Taiwan's government, and deny the sovereignty of Taiwan. These are all moves to change and damage the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan is a sovereign nation. It is by no means subordinate to the People's Republic of China, nor is it a part or a province of the PRC. Taiwan is a country. We have governmental authority and enjoy national sovereignty. Nonetheless, China is using its fivefold united front tactics in an attempt to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

As for Taiwan, in accordance with the "Four Noes" pledge, we have not declared independence. But Taiwan is a sovereign, independent nation to begin with, a fact that doesn't need to be declared. We have not changed the national moniker, but we hope to participate in the international community and join the United Nations using the name "Taiwan." We have not included the "state-to-state relationship" description [of the Taiwan-China relationship] in the Constitution, but we have enshrined in it the right of referendum [to ratify constitutional revisions]. We have not held a referendum regarding the question of independence versus unification, but we did hold a "peace referendum" in 2004. We have not violated the "Four Noes" pledge, but the 23 million people of Taiwan will continue to walk their own path of democracy, of freedom, of human rights, and of peace.

FT: You have explained one by one how Taiwan has not broken the Four Nos commitments. But this is all referring to the past. But what about the future? If you pledge not to change the national moniker and not to put the view that Taiwan and China are two different countries into the constitution, but at the same time start discussing a Second Republic constitution, if that is realized, won't that violate the Four Nos?

Chen: Just now, I already made a point of explaining that freezing the ROC Constitution and drafting a Taiwan constitution is a process that involves linkage with the ROC Constitution. Actually, it's just like the so-called Temporary Provisions [Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion] of the past, and the currently effective Additional Articles. Didn't these freeze a large, large portion of the ROC Constitution? Freeze the whole of it or a part of it--either way, it's freezing. So where's the difference? It's all the same. Some therefore say that a Second Republic came into being long ago, and it's hard to say which republic the current one is. So [we can say] the Chiang Kai-shek era was the Second Republic, when the Temporary Provisions were in effect, and the Lee Teng-hui era with its Additional Articles was the Third Republic.

FT: I would like to ask another question regarding cross-Strait relations. Kuomintang chairman Ma Ying-jeou has recently proposed to pledge not to declare independence in exchange for China not using military force against Taiwan. Although this is not new, everybody seems to be paying more attention because Mr. Ma is likely to run for president in 2008. What are your comments on this proposal?

Chen: I met with Chairman Ma shortly after he returned from his visit to the US in March of this year and consider his reasoning problematic. It sounds appealing on first hearing, but the case is completely different if you try and think about and understand it further and in more depth. The so-called peace agreement based on the principle of "no Taiwan independence, no use of force by China" proposed by Chairman Ma is nothing short of an agreement to surrender. It means capitulating. Everyone knows that such a peace agreement would change rather than maintain the status quo.

In 1998, Mr. Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior director on the National Security Council for the Clinton administration, advocated that Taiwan and China sign an interim agreement guaranteeing "no Taiwan independence, no use of force by China" during the course of 50 years. I met with him several times while he tried to sell the proposition to me. I asked him if there were any preconditions or conclusions to his interim agreement, and he told me that there was a precondition of recognizing the one-China principle and that ultimate unification was the conclusion. And so I informed him that it would be impossible for Taiwan to accept such an agreement. I also explained that Taiwan would not accept the agreement even if it only included preconditions without conclusions, as agreeing to a precondition is tantamount to accepting a conclusion. He came to me many more times after that, still trying to sell his interim agreement. When I asked whether there were any changes or whether the preconditions and conclusions still existed, he told me that the agreement had been modified so that there was no longer any of either. Subsequently, I asked whether he had visited China and received the green light from Beijing. Beijing would not accept it, and therein lies the problem.

When former US President Bill Clinton visited Taipei from February 27 to 28 last year, we met and talked. I asked President Clinton if he was aware of Mr. Lieberthal's proposal, whether it would be acceptable to him, and whether it would be in the interests of Taiwan to accept it. He told me that Taiwan should never accept it, because time is on our side. He emphasized that all would be over if Taiwan were to accept the agreement. If even President Clinton--as Lieberthal's former boss--could not be persuaded by the proposal, how could Taiwan ever possibly consider it? Chairman Ma's peace agreement is a carbon copy of Lieberthal's agreement save for the slight modification of calling it a "peace agreement." As for "no Taiwan independence, no use of force by China," were there no preconditions, China would never accept it.

Why must there be preconditions? To make the 1992 Hong Kong meeting possible, the then-ruling KMT established the National Unification Council and Guidelines for National Unification. It was only with the establishment of these two mechanisms in advance that the Hong Kong meeting of 1992 and Koo-Wang talks of 1993 in Singapore were able to take place. We all know that the NUC and GNU were based on the precondition of the one-China principle and the conclusion of ultimate unification. The 1992 Hong Kong meeting could proceed only once Taiwan had accepted these preconditions. If it is necessary to agree to China's preconditions and conclusions just to have a meeting, would China sign a peace agreement without conditions? The logic is simple. How could a peace agreement in which we are obliged to accept Beijing's one-China principle still be considered a peace agreement? It is an agreement to surrender. And once Taiwan's signature is on that agreement, everything will be over--it will be the end of Taiwan.

Even more ludicrous is the "no Taiwan independence, no use of force by China" deal. It goes without saying that no country should use military force against another! Cross-strait disagreements and disputes should certainly not be settled by force. Japan and the US specially incorporated the Taiwan issue as one of their common strategic objectives at the Japan-US Security Consultative Committee's "2+2" meeting, thus advocating that cross-strait issues be resolved peacefully through dialogue rather than by resorting to the use of force or non-peaceful means. How could the international community possibly approve of the use of force against Taiwan by China? The European Parliament, for one, has called for China to withdraw missiles deployed along its southeastern coast targeted at Taiwan, as well as for the peaceful resolution of cross-strait disputes through dialogue. The use of military force is wrong, and this is why the European Union still maintains its arms embargo against China. How could they support an undemocratic, aggressive China in using force against a democratic, peace-loving Taiwan?

Then we have the part on "no Taiwan independence." Taiwan already is independent--an independent sovereign state. Whatever its national designation, be it the "Republic of China" or the much more popular "Taiwan," it is absolutely an independent sovereign country. Would it not be very strange to turn it into a non-independent one? In exchange for "no use of force by China," we would be turning an independent Taiwan into a non-independent Taiwan. Although we already enjoy independent sovereignty, some are now suggesting that we don't even want that anymore! This is, therefore, most certainly not the approach that we should choose. We must try to understand the whole affair. For beneath the sugarcoating of peace is nothing but surrender, not a peace agreement.

FT: If you were to remain in power for a longer time, what would be the right kind of cross-Strait policy then? I know that you have presented many proposals on improving cross-Strait relations, but there have not been many results, partly because the other side did not respond. Over the past year, there have been some non-official exchanges, and on some practical issues there seems to be some progress, but everyone still thinks this is too little, too late, also it is completely separate from political contacts. So do you see any option for how Taiwan could communicate with China on a larger, more official scale?

Chen: I still want to move forward with a firm but pragmatic stance. We must not act in haste. We still must continue to insist on maintaining Taiwan's status as an entity in its own right. Taking Taiwan as such, it most certainly is not an appendage or marginal region of China. This point is extremely important and most fundamental. Taiwan's status as a self-contained entity cannot be abandoned for the sake of commercial interests or convenient transportation. We must uphold Taiwan-centric consciousness and put the interests of Taiwan first to maintain Taiwan's existence as an entity in its own right. True, the China market is very big. But we absolutely cannot treat it as our only way out, making it our entire market. It is only a part of our global deployment, not all of it, and not the last of it. Therefore, I have always felt that it is a very dangerous matter that many people don't want Taiwan, don't want this nation, or want to throw away and give up Taiwan's national sovereignty. We must not turn ourselves into another Hong Kong or Fujian. As ever, Taiwan is not under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China. We most certainly are not their special administrative region or special administrative province. We must have an accurate understanding of this point in the process of advancing the normalization of cross-strait relations.

FT: I would like to ask a question about domestic politics. There has been a lot of noise in recent months, and we hear a lot of news about scandals and corruption. How much damage has been done to Taiwan's democracy and to your authority as a political leader? Can this damage be undone? Many people have started harboring deep distrust and doubts towards the system and towards you personally. What can be done about that?

Chen: Of course, many of these are political issues. Having transformed from authoritarianism to democracy, Taiwan is a very young democracy. As I have often mentioned, Taiwan is currently facing four major difficulties: division on the issue of national identity; vicious party politics; problems concerning transitional justice; and the choice of constitutional system. Today, we have not only domestic problems, but external ones as well. Just now, I mentioned China's "fivefold transformation" policy toward Taiwan. They don't recognize Taiwan as a country with its own government, a government with public authority. So they want to "de-legitimize" Taiwan's government and deny its sovereignty. They also totally withhold recognition of the president as the symbol of the nation's sovereignty and representative of the government. So, to put it plainly, they are pursuing a policy of abolishing Taiwan's presidency--in other words, a Taiwan devoid of a president.

Domestically, as the result of competition and turmoil during presidential elections--particularly in the wake of the 2004 election--some political parties don't recognize me as their president, which likewise amounts to abolishing the presidency. Hence, they have used every possible means to twist the facts, and to slander and insult the current leader of the nation. It hurts of course. But we feel that it was the right thing to turn Taiwan from authoritarianism into a democracy. It has been an ordeal for us to transform Taiwan from an authoritarian country to a democratic one based on the rule of law, yet we nevertheless have gradually seen its fruits.

So, speaking of democracy, we all know that Taiwan is already quite democratic. Another aspect of democracy is freedom. Whether in the rankings of US-based Freedom House or France-based Reporters Without Borders, Taiwan stands with the United States and Japan as among the freest nations. In the Freedom House evaluation, we even received the highest possible score in the categories of political rights and civil liberties. Similarly, in terms of press freedom, we are not just 100 percent free, but even 200 percent free.

I think there are very few places in the world where freedom of the press is so well protected as in Taiwan. In the latest ranking, Taiwan's press freedom has moved up [9 notches], ranking ahead of Japan and the United States. This goes to show how free Taiwan's news media are. The quality of the news, however, is far from satisfactory, as shown by another report stating that only 1 percent of the public views the news as reliable. This is the problem in Taiwan. But we cannot for that reason restrain press freedom, but must rather safeguard and protect it. In Taiwan's march from authoritarianism to democracy, there is no turning back. This is our firm belief.

It is rare in the world to see the media report wild, sensationalistic allegations and conduct trials by public opinion. In a truly democratic and advanced nation, such as the United States, even a senior anchor must resign for making an unsubstantiated, nonfactual report or commentary. Such integrity is unimaginable in Taiwan. Similarly, not long ago in Japan, a Diet member from the Democratic Party of Japan criticized the son of a prominent politician from the Liberal Democratic Party for taking bribes. However, when the accusation turned out to be false, not only did this representative resign, but his party's leader also had to take responsibility and stepped down. This, then, is taking responsibility for one's actions. Taiwan has no problems with press freedom or freedom of speech. However, in terms of civic, political, and media responsibility, as well as using freedom of speech responsibly, we still have a long way to go.

FT: My last question is directed at how you define your role in history. What are your contributions and achievements for Taiwan? Do you have any plans for a political career after 2008?

Chen: I do not dare say that my greatest contribution to Taiwan has been to turn a century-old party, a party that ruled Taiwan for over 50 consecutive years, into an opposition party, thus completing a change of ruling parties. At the least, however, we have made our mark on Taiwan's road from authoritarianism to democracy. We have never let the people down along the way. Completing the first transfer of power between political parties in history and turning Taiwan into a truly democratic nation, therefore, are achievements that we definitely can present to the people of Taiwan as something worth being gratified about.

Being a democratic country is not enough for Taiwan, however. It has to become a nation based on the rule of law. Although in the process, much harm or unfairness may befall me or my family, we still believe that as long as we can transform Taiwan from a democratic country into one based on the rule of law, in which everyone is equal before the law--such that even if my own family members have done something wrong, they all still must be subject to sanctions and judgments mandated by the nation's laws. And, of course, we may sometimes feel ashamed in such a case, and suffer much loss of face. However, looking at it from another perspective, this may prove invaluable for Taiwan's democracy and the rule of law. Transforming one's own loss into an asset for the public is something we have to work hard for and strive for.

Second is the holding of the first referendum in Taiwan's history. First came the Referendum Act [which stipulated the conditions and procedure for referendums, as already guaranteed by the Constitution], and then came the addition to the Constitution of the right of referendum [for ratifying constitutional amendments]. In a period of just three years, we accomplished the enactment of the Referendum Act, the first "peace referendum" [in March 2004], and a constitutional amendment on referendums. The right of referendum, which used to be looked upon as a looming deluge, beast, or political taboo, is today no longer considered so, but has become a basic human right and universal value in Taiwan.

Now that, like people and nations all over the world that enjoy the right of referendum, the people in Taiwan are no longer deprived of and prevented from enjoying it--this is an achievement of which we are very proud, one that demonstrates the preciousness of Taiwan's democracy, one that was striven for and completed during my presidency. Of course, we still have a long road ahead of us. Being able to have taken the first step, however, is still an exciting thing.

Building a truly nationalized armed forces that is not controlled by any individual or political party is not a matter of writing it into the Constitution to make it so. Over the past six-plus years, we have implemented nationalization of the military, and it is no longer just an article in the Constitution. Rather, it is a true nationalization of the military. Therefore, I often say that we needn't be afraid of chaos in the Legislature or worry about a wild media; what we worry most about, and feel is most frightening, is a military that is not truly nationalized. If the military doesn't get out of hand, then regardless of how chaotic the Legislature or media is, the country will not fall into chaos. Therefore, during the protests in front of the Office of the President after the March 20, 2004 election, and the sit-in demonstrations staged by the "Red-Shirt Army," we saw the results of the nationalization of the military. This is the most important stabilizing force the nation has. It is different from what is seen in many countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa. This is one of Taiwan's success stories and it is the pride of a democratic Taiwan. Taiwan's military is no longer a so-called party army or private army, but truly belongs to the people and the country. Its loyalty is to the Constitution, to this nation, and to this land. This is what is right.

The last thing I would like to talk about is cross-strait peace. Ten years ago, when Taiwan held its first direct presidential election, China test-fired missiles [into waters near Taiwan]. In March 1996, just prior to the election, China conducted two sets of missile tests, with the nearest coming down only 55 kilometers off Taiwan. Now, ten years later, we have held presidential elections in 2000 and 2004, and China has conducted no further test-firing of missiles against Taiwan. And of course, no matter how you look at it, cross-strait peace has been a fact during the past ten years, and especially so during the six years of my administration. In the past, when we held presidential elections, opposition parties would say that people should not vote for the DDP or support Chen Shui-bian, as otherwise China or the Chinese Communists would attack Taiwan. Six years have passed and the People's Liberation Army has not attacked Taiwan. This is the result of the efforts of all the people in Taiwan.

The fact that we have been able to maintain peace, the movement of people, and exchanges across the strait--at the busiest pace and most energetic and intimate level in history--is also symbolic of the improvement in cross-strait relations and definitely encourages the public's optimism. Although many remain dissatisfied and many criticize, I still feel that we can claim a triumph in having maintained cross-strait peace, especially under a DPP administration.


In the event of discrepancy between the English translation and the Chinese, the Chinese version shall prevail.

【Source: Office of the President】