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대만교회지도자, 조국의 주권인정 요청

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2000-03-29 00:19
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Taiwanese church leader calls for recognition of island's
sovereignty
ENI-00-0100

By Edmund Doogue
Geneva, 21 March (ENI)--The general secretary of Taiwan's
biggest Protestant church, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
(PCT), has called on Christians world-wide to pray that last
Saturday's national elections - which swept the Kuomintang (KMT)
president from power - will usher in a new era for the island in
which its sovereignty will be respected by the world community,
especially the People's Republic of China, which is just 130
kilometres away.

William J. K. Lo was speaking to ENI by telephone shortly after
Taiwan's president-elect, Chen Shui-bian, a lawyer from the
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), visited the PCT's
headquarters in the capital, Taipei, to thank the PCT for what Lo
called its support for "democratic and human rights, and
nationhood".

The PCT has long been in the forefront of campaigning for
Taiwanese independence and human rights on the island, which has
been ruled for 50 years by the KMT. Many of the PCT's members and
leaders have been imprisoned for campaigning against the harsh
rule of the KMT, which has often attempted to crush dissent, and
Chen Shui-bian has defended many members of the PCT in court.

Although Taiwan has in effect functioned as an independent
country for decades, both China and the KMT have maintained a
"One China" policy, according to which Taiwan is part of China -
though the two sides both maintained they were the rightful
rulers of "One China".

Since the handover of Hong Kong and Macau to Beijing's control,
the Communists have stepped up their campaign to take over
Taiwan.

Before Saturday's election, Communist leaders in Beijing warned
that any move towards official independence by Taiwan would be
seen by China as a provocation. These threats were apparently
intended to deter Taiwanese voters from voting for Chen, whose
party favours an independent Taiwan. After Chen's electoral
victory, the BBC commented that Taiwan's voters had given Beijing
"a poke in the eye".

Lo told ENI that the pre-election comments from Communist
leaders in Beijing had not been welcome. "We are quite clear
about this [election], it was our own business. We don't need
interference from others in our democratic process." He said that
Chen had declared at a rally just before the election that Taiwan
was in fact "a de facto independent nation, with its own
constitution and military".

Asked by ENI whether president-elect Chen would make an official
declaration of independence by Taiwan - which would certainly
cause deep anger in Beijing and could even provoke a military
attack or invasion from the mainland - Lo said that Chen had
pointed out that as Taiwan functioned as an independent nation, a
declaration of independence was not necessary. (The Western press
also speculated after Saturday's election that Chen was unlikely
to take the risk of making a declaration. According to the
International Herald Tribune, Chen "recognises that very few
Taiwanese are willing to risk their material well-being on a
lunge for independence".)

Lo said that Chen wanted in fact to "pursue peace" with China,
to visit the mainland and invite China's head of state, Jiang
Zemin, to visit Taiwan.

Referring to the bitter past between the Communists in Beijing
and the KMT, who fled the mainland for Taiwan after the Communist
victory in the war on the mainland in the 1940s, Lo told ENI that
the DPP victory on Saturday signalled that the rivalry between
China and Taiwan was now over.

"This conflict [between the Communists and the KMT] has nothing
to do with Taiwan," Lo said. "The KMT was from China, and it was
China-oriented, but now the new government [in Taipei] is
Taiwan-oriented. We elected Chen to show that there is no
conflict between China and Taiwan. It is my prayer that Beijing
will now change its attitude towards the Taiwanese people, and
will respect our sovereignty and identity. We need the prayers of
the whole ecumenical movement to understand that this island of
23 million people has a new government for a new era."

Lo said Saturday's vote would boost the desire of Taiwan's
citizens for their country to become a member of the United
Nations, a move strongly opposed by China. He added that he hoped
governments around the world would try to build links with
Taiwan. (China refuses to have diplomatic links with any nation
that has an embassy in Taipei, and only the Vatican and a small
number of states, some of which receive aid from Taiwan,
recognise the island nation.) However, Lo said that governments
abroad could set up cultural and economic links with Taiwan.

The PCT has 220 000 members, and is a member of the World
Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches,
both based in Geneva.

? Chris Patten, the European Commission's officer for external
relations, has welcomed the DPP's victory in Saturday's
elections. "Taiwan has made its democratic choice, and I
congratulate Mr Chen Shui-bian on his victory. I hope that the
relations between Beijing and Taipei can develop in a peaceful
and constructive way." Patten was the last British governor of
Hong Kong. His democratic reforms of the colony in the years
before its return to Chinese rule in 1997, caused deep irritation
in Beijing.