March 13th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Has Canberra gone bananas? Has Biosecurity Australia dropped its quarantine standards?

EDITORIAL: The law and the status of marriage

QUEENSLAND: Westons biscuits now in Australian hands

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Band-aids won't solve Australia's ageing problem

STRAWS IN THE WIND : Drawing the line / The smile on the face of the tiger / Pecking order

FAMILY: Social engineering in education system

DRUGS: ACT pulls back from legalised heroin injecting room

Taiwan's necessary referendum (letter)

Islamic societies (letter)

Privatisation and WA's power shortages (letter)

The Latham paradox (letter)

Prevention is better than cure (letter)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: The culture of life and the United Nations

FAILED SCHOOLS: Is there a way out of the crisis in education?

CHINA: Did Beijing assist nuclear proliferation?

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Taiwan's necessary referendum (letter)

by Osman Chia

News Weekly, March 13, 2004

I wish to congratulate Peter Westmore on his article "Cliffhanger election will affect China relations" (News Weekly, February 28).

The Taiwanese Government will hold a peace referendum along with the presidential election on March 20. It has come to my attention that there have been some concerns here in Australia regarding the referendum in Taiwan. I am happy to clarify the nature of this issue.

The referendum will ask Taiwan's voters whether the island should obtain advanced anti-missile weapons if China refuses to renounce the use of force and to withdraw missiles aimed at it; and whether Taiwan should negotiate with China over a peaceful and stable framework for cross-strait interactions.

In the face of the ever more serious threat from China, the people of Taiwan should be allowed to express their will and determination to defend their homeland and pursue genuine and permanent peace across the Taiwan Strait.

China is now rapidly increasing the deployment of missiles against Taiwan, adding one missile every six days. It is predicted that by 2005, there will be more than 600 guided missiles targeted at Taiwan.

Faced with such a grim situation, we must use the March 20 referendum to build a consensus on strengthening our anti-missile capability, to raise confidence, to express our aspirations to negotiate with China on an equal basis and to establish peace across the Taiwan Strait.

The Chinese authorities have refused to sit down and engage in a real dialogue with the Taiwanese Government. They have claimed again and again that they lay their hope in the people of Taiwan.

By holding a peace referendum, Taiwan will convey to China the true voice of its people. Taiwan just wants to make Beijing listen to the concerted outcry of its 23 million people that what Taiwanese want is democracy and peace, not missiles and war.

Some friends in the free world have expressed their opinions and concerns about the March 20 peace referendum. What concerns them is whether or not Taiwan's status quo would be changed unilaterally through a referendum. In an interview with Time on February 23, President Chen made it clear that "Taiwan's status quo will definitely not be changed". Chen has given the same pledge in his inaugural speech in 2000 and still honours this pledge today.

Osman Chia,
Director, Information Division,
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office,
Sydney, NSW

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