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Transcript of CNN Interview with President Chen

  • Date:2007-01-23

Transcript of CNN Interview Chen Shui-bian President Republic of China (Taiwan) January 23,2007 A: Of course, it is regrettable, and I feel very sad about it. Many things shouldn't have happened, but they happened anyway. Of course, we must respect the judicial process. We must believe in our judiciary. Some of the cases have been filed, and some of them are undergoing the first trials. Some have reached a verdict after the first trial. We want everything to follow due process and we will work very hard to defend our rights and interests. There are some cases that are close now and some people have been proven not guilty. Some are still undergoing the case, and we believe that the judiciary will vindicate us and restore our reputation. For example, the gift certificates regarding the Sogo Department Store--the case has been closed, and my wife has been proven innocent. The case regarding the Special State Affairs Fund is undergoing the first trial. Everybody knows that in Taiwan, only the President is endowed with a Special State Affairs Fund. I want to point out very clearly that not a penny has gone into private pockets. We have used all of the state funds on secret diplomatic work and also on work related to national security. Soon after I became president in the year 2000, I made the decision to cut my salary in half. So, accumulated over the past almost seven years, I have saved the nation at least 40 million New Taiwan dollars. It is impossible to imagine that I would spend five years to collect more than 700 receipts just to obtain illegally about 14 million NT dollars and put that into my pocket. I think everybody remembers, not long ago, current chairman Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT also had some trouble with his special allowance as a mayor. I think many others also face similar issues and problems. So, this is not an individual case. Even though in Taiwan only the president enjoys this Special State Affairs Fund, we think it's a problem that exists in our system. Our current premier, Su Tseng-chang, has rightly pointed out this could be referred to as a "shared historic karma." It's not just an individual case, but the problem actually lies within the system. I'd like to say that these cases are not as simple as they seem--the judicial cases. They are actually political cases. This is a phenomenon during the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Maybe we could call it a growing pain on our road to democracy. But I believe that our judiciary branch will prove that we are innocent, and history will clear my name. A: Regarding the case of my son-in-law, who has been charged with insider trading, for which the first trial has been completed--the result of which he's going to appeal--we believe that eventually the evidence will speak for the truth. Regarding the Sogo Department Store gift certificates case, I think it was first brought up in the year 2004 during the very vicious presidential election campaign. The legislators from my opponents' camp have chosen to use such news to tarnish my reputation and bring down my campaign. But two years later, finally, the judiciary has restored my wife's reputation. As I have stated before, only the president of this country has the Special State Affairs Fund. This practice has been in place for over 50 years, and other heads of governments and agencies have special allowances. We have been using the Special State Affairs Fund on work that is related to what the Constitution has endowed on me--the power of conducting state affairs related to national security, diplomacy, cross-strait relations, and military affairs. Not a single penny has gone into private pockets. We have used all of it to conduct state affairs. A: Presidential immunity has been stipulated in Article 52 of our Constitution. I think it is there because it is intended to protect the president in his position as president, not to protect the individual president. Because the president is head of state, his position must be protected and respected. I think this is the spirit of this Article 52 of our Constitution. The president also enjoys immunity when he exercises his duty according to the regulations in our Constitution, because sometimes the president has to conduct top-secret state affairs. I think this constitutional system exists for every president, not just for myself. A: Well, I believe that everybody would have a different view regarding Article 52--the presidential immunity--regarding its scope of application. But we respect different opinions and I think the final decision must go through the interpretation of the Council of Grand Justices. We can't just listen to one or two legislators' proposals and decide to change or define its scope of application. A: It's really a matter of the system. I must respect the existing system, respect the Constitution, respect the existing regulations--I cannot evade any of these. I really must go by the system. A: I think we must abide by the constitutional system and the regulations in our law to resolve disputes or differences. Yes, indeed, Taiwan is a democratic and free country, and freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and association are fully guaranteed and protected. But regarding the final resolution to all these disputes, we still have to follow the rule of law. In the year 2000, I think my opposition had already launched its first recall motion, which was the first political storm that I faced as president. We had a dispute over this public issue of whether or not to continue construction of the fourth nuclear power plant. Over this issue, they launched a recall motion. Also, in March 2004, the people had some disputes over the results of the presidential election after some very fierce competition. At that time, almost half a million people staged a protest in front of the Presidential Office demanding that I step down. The people have the right to demand that I step down or to call for a recall motion. But I still insist that everything has to follow the constitutional system and the regulations--we should not violate that principle. The resolution to the year 2000 recall motion was that we had the Council of Grand Justices give an interpretation regarding the nuclear power plant construction. For the case of March 2004, there were two election lawsuits brought up, and then, eventually, it was our judicial system that took care of this issue. Because democracy is about freedom but also about rule of law, so, while we protect full-fledged freedoms of the press, speech, assembly, and association, and also protect the right of individuals to express their different political opinions, we still believe that everything has to abide by the rule of law. As the president, I must defend simultaneously the spirit and principles of democracy, freedom, and also rule of law. A: We have great faith in Taiwan. We have great faith and confidence in Taiwan's democracy and also in Taiwan's people. We should not lose faith just because of some temporary noise and chaos as a result of the vicious competition between political parties. It will not affect the way we conduct ourselves and conduct our activities, because we firmly believe that we have embarked on the correct path of democracy, freedom, and rule of law. Of course, we should always be attuned to the rate of public support, but we should not be overly affected by it and become restricted by it. Instead, we should work very hard to try to change that and try to galvanize more support from our people. As I recall, in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, in the beginning, our support rate was far behind our opponents'. We didn't even have half of the support rate compared with them. But we did not give up so easily. With confidence, solidarity, and hard work, we still managed to win the two presidential elections. Another good example is the recent Kaohsiung mayoral election at the end of last year. The last opinion poll had indicated that our party was still behind by 12 to 15 percentage points. But the result has proven that as long as we don't give up so easily, we can still win the election, even though with a very small margin. A: It is more than 900 missiles. The latest figure that we got from our Ministry of National Defense, after checking with the figure that the US got, it is almost 1,000 missiles. The correct number should be 988 missiles. For the past year, I have been telling my people that the number of missiles that China has deployed against us is about 820. But now the figure has increased by 168 missiles. That is an astonishing rate. It's quite amazing. Back in the year 2000 when I first became president, the missiles deployed along the southeastern coast of China were about 200 and now they are almost 1,000. They have increased almost by fivefold. In the past, we believed that the increase of the number of missiles deployed was at the rate of 100 to 120 missiles per year. But now the figure has reached 988, and so I think the rate of increase has exceeded more than 120 per year. A: Well, up to this day, China has never renounced the use of force against Taiwan. Also in the year 2005, it passed the so-called anti-secession law, attempting to lay a legal basis for its future invasion of Taiwan. Also according to the intelligence that we gathered, China has completed its preparation work to use force against Taiwan in three stages. That is, to establish contingency-response combat capabilities by 2007; by 2010, to build up combat capability for large-scale military engagement; and by 2015, to ensure victory in a decisive battle. Actually, both the US Defense Department as well as the Ministry of Defense in Japan, according to their reports, it has been indicated that the military balance in the Taiwan Strait is gradually tilting in China's favor. A: It is China that is provoking Taiwan. It passed the "anti-secession law." It never formally renounced the use of force against Taiwan. It has also begun to complete three-stage preparation work to invade Taiwan in the future. What this government, the people of Taiwan, and this administration have been doing is merely defending the sovereignty, dignity, and security of our country. It is our solemn duty and obligation to defend the peaceful status quo in the Taiwan Strait. It is China that is attempting to use military force to invade Taiwan and to change the peaceful status quo in the Taiwan Strait. A: I think it would be provocative for Taiwan if we claim that our national sovereignty and our jurisdiction extend to mainland China, and their territory is part of our territory. That would be provocative. China never admits the factual existence of the Republic of China. Even according to their Constitution, it is written that the Republic of China ceased to exist in 1949. Now we cannot use the national moniker "the Republic of China," nor can we change it. We think that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign country with a land size of 36000 sq km and a population of 23 million. What I have just said is a fact and it is the status quo. We cannot possibly fantasize that our territory extends to mainland China as well as Outer Mongolia, and that our population is 1.3 billion. A: As I have said, these are the facts and that is the status quo. What is left for us of our territory, our sovereignty, only extends to Taiwan, the Pescadores (Penghu), Kinmen, and Matsu, and has a population of 23 million. This is a fact and there is no need to redefine it. A: I believe that Taiwan and the United States are the best alliance in terms of sharing the universal values; we are the best alliance of democracy, and we are best partners in economy and trade as well as in security issues. The economic miracle achieved by Taiwan is well acclaimed and lauded by the international community. The democratic achievements we have also won the praise of President Bush as well as former Secretary of State Mr. Powell, and he called it a success story. Taiwan may be small, but we are actually the eighth-largest trading partner of the United States. Last year, bilateral trade volume amounted to US$60 billion dollars. Last year, Taiwan and the US resumed the TIFA negotiations, the United States government also sent its deputy trade representative, Mr. Bhatia, to Taiwan and we (he and I) had a very thorough discussion over important trade issues. In the year 2004, the United States and Japan governments had voted in favor of Taiwan's bid to become an observer in the World Health Assembly. And not long ago, when I attended the inaugural ceremony of the new president of Nicaragua, Mr. Ortega, I had a lively conversation and exchange of opinions with the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mr. Leavitt. Mr. Leavitt has continuously voiced his support for Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization. Also two years ago, in the "Two Plus Two" security meeting between the United States and Japan, they for the first time listed Taiwan as one of their common security objectives. Yes, indeed, there may be some differences regarding certain issues between the United States and Taiwan, but I believe that our interactions are very intensive and are very positive. We also have a lot of high-level dialogues. A: We believe that the health rights of Taiwan's people should not be barred from the world, should not be neglected by the world. Therefore, it is only right that Taiwan becomes first an observer in the WHA and then becomes a member of the WHO. Otherwise, we would leave a loophole in the international disease prevention network and it would not be to the benefit of humankind. According to the UN Charter regarding universality of membership, I think Taiwan should not be the only exception in the world to be restricted in its participation. This also violates the collective human rights of Taiwan's people since this international organization refuses to abide by the spirit listed in its charter of universal membership. Regarding UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, it only dealt with the representation of China, but it has not dealt with the representation of the 23 million people of Taiwan. Over 70 percent, almost 80 percent of Taiwan's people are in support of Taiwan joining the United Nations under the name "Taiwan." I think such support is the collective and loud voice of Taiwan's people that should be heard by the world community. As the leader of this nation, I want to make Taiwan become a normal country. Even though Taiwan is an independent, sovereignty country, it is not yet a normal and complete country. Why do I say that Taiwan is not yet a normal country? Because if it were, it would be a member of the UN family and also be a member of the World Health Organization. Why do I say that Taiwan is not yet a complete country? Because our current Constitution has never been approved by our people. The 23 million people of Taiwan really need a new Taiwan constitution that is timely, relevant, and viable. This year, 2007, also marks the 60th anniversary of the February 28 Incident and the 20th anniversary of the lifting of martial law in Taiwan. In the past twenty years since martial law was lifted, Taiwan has embarked upon the correct path of democratic reform, and we have also insisted upon Taiwan-centric consciousness and upon realizing social justice. However, we have not reached the final destination yet on our road of democracy and social justice, and also the road to ensure Taiwan-centric consciousness. Therefore, we must continue to consolidate and deepen Taiwan's democracy. I'm proud to say that in terms of building truly nationalized armed forces, we have seen great improvement, and now our armed forces are no longer controlled by any individual or political party. They truly serve the nation and the people. But another aspect is that the principle of civilian leadership of the military has not been truly realized. In the past seven years, I was not able to do that. But I hope that I can make it in the final year of my tenure. There's still a lot to do in terms of strengthening Taiwan-centric consciousness. A survey indicated that in the year 2000, only 36 percent of citizens considered themselves Taiwanese. But at the end of last year, another survey pointed out that more than 60 percent of people now call themselves Taiwanese. I hope by the time I finish my term of office, this number will increase to 70 percent or even 75 percent. Also, I want to put the emphasis on striking a good balance between prosperity and social justice and equity. Therefore, our main policy goals include increasing investment in Taiwan, continuing to create more job opportunities, bridging the gap between urban and rural areas, as well as decreasing the gap between the rich and poor. These are our major policy goals. A: Let me point out to you that in the year 2000, I won with a total of 39.3 percent of the votes. In the year 2004, the ballots that I garnered increased by 1.5 million. I garnered the majority mandate. That is all because of the existence of a Taiwan-centric consciousness. There is a growing Taiwan-centric consciousness. This is the trend. In the United States, for example, there is no problem of differences in the national identity issue, so internally, there may be bipartisanship. Maybe the Democrats have different opinions from the Republicans, and they have competition also, but in terms of overall diplomacy and security issues perhaps regarding Iraq or another issue, they usually have one single stand on any issue regarding the overall national interest or national security. However, that's not the case here in Taiwan. We do have a problem regarding the issue of national identity. Some of our population regard themselves as Taiwanese, but there are still some people who say "No, I am not Taiwanese, I am Chinese." While many of us say that Taiwan is an independent sovereign country, there are still quite a number of people here who say that no, Taiwan is part of China. So in the face of China's military intimidation--and it has never formally renounced the use of force against Taiwan and its deployment of missiles threatening Taiwan--it is imperative that we increase Taiwan's self-defense capability. But still there are some political parties here, or some people who strongly oppose the three military procurement projects from the United States. China has been trying to limit Taiwan's international space, and also take away Taiwan's diplomatic allies as we try to reach out to the world. I regret the way some sabotage and obstruct things, and still internally there are some people who try to pull our leg from behind and also try to stab us in the back. Therefore, we must try to increase the number of people who truly identify themselves with this land of Taiwan and also with this country. We cannot afford to let division continue. We must count on solidarity among our population so that we can together fight and defend ourselves against any external military intimidation as well as other belligerent rhetoric directed against us. I am very certain that in the 2008 presidential election, the one who insists on Taiwan-centric consciousness will be elected and also, by that time, the number of people who consider themselves as Taiwanese will also increase. A: First of all, I believe that if it were not for that shooting incident, our camp would have won, and won even more votes. According to the opinion poll done by our camp on the 18th of March, 2004, our camp would beat our opponents by 2.1 percent. If this incident hadn't happened on the last evening before voting day, we could still have had a great opportunity to boost momentum and garnered even more support before the final vote. After I was shot and sent to the hospital, I was still very eager to leave the hospital and continue with the remaining activities scheduled for that evening, for which we had big rallies scheduled for the south and central parts of Taiwan, and for the north, three rallies. But after I learned that those rallies and activities were cancelled, I was very angry because I thought that we still had the chance to boost our support rate. When I was shot but still didn't realize that I was shot, I thought that there were some injuries and scratches from the firecrackers. The vice president was standing right next to me, she said to me: "Mr. President, you have been injured and your are bleeding right now. We should rush to the hospital." But I remember that I told her we still had a lot of activities waiting for us, so I wanted to continue and not think of going to the hospital. We already believed that we were going to win the election, so why would we risk our lives like that? A: If I had truly attempted to stage this, I would not have had the president and the vice president be shot at the same time. I think the opponents could not admit their own defeat, so they tried to find themselves a scapegoat to blame their defeat on the two bullets. A: I admit it has been a difficult road from authoritarianism to democracy. Taiwan is one of the emerging democracies, and this road has indeed been full of challenges, setbacks, and difficulties. Some people have to make sacrifices on this road and pay the price. But still, for democracy, we're willing to bear such a cross. That is why in the upcoming days, in fact this Friday, we will hold a session to call for the birth of a global forum on new democracies, and we have invited former heads of state from emerging democracies. We all will sit together and look back on the challenges that we had in common, and will also share experiences and lessons that we have learned, so that we can get some inspiration on this road to democracy. A: I have said before that after I finish my term as president, I want to be a happy volunteer. As I have said before, our democratic reform is still ongoing and it must continue to be consolidated and deepened. But there is still a lot we could do regarding strengthening Taiwan-centric consciousness as well as realizing social equity and justice. I think I could be of assistance in this regard. Apart from being a happy volunteer, I also wish to make some contribution as a pusher and a cultivator and a gardener on Taiwan's road to democracy. A: I think the temporary noise will soon subside and our judicial system will prove I am innocent and history will also clear my name. At the end of the day, ten years, two decades from now, people will remember that it was in my hands in the year 2000, we have completed the first-ever peaceful transfer of political power and the first alternation of political parties in power. Also, 20 years from now, people will remember that it was during my presidency that the people of Taiwan first started enjoying the right of referendum, and that referendum was introduced to this country. Moreover, it was during my presidency that the National Unification Council ceased to function and the Guidelines for National Unification ceased to apply, thereby returning the right of freely choosing their future to the people of Taiwan. I think 10 or 20 years from now, people will remember that during my eight years as president, I have persisted and persevered in fighting against this so-called "one China" principle proposed by China, and also have refused to accept the so-called 1992 Consensus, and I have insisted on Taiwan being an independent, sovereign country and that the People's Republic of China does not have jurisdiction over Taiwan, nor does Taiwan have jurisdiction over the People's Republic of China. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait are different countries. I think history will bear witness to my devotion and my commitment to defending Taiwan. Thank you. 【Source: Office of the President】