TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In a media interview with Japan’s Sankei Newspaper (產經新聞), and his first in ten years, former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) called for a public referendum on Taiwanese independence as a means of countering China’s campaign of political and economic suppression.
In the interview Chen urged the Tsai administration to promote a public referendum on independence, in order to give the world a chance to hear the voice of Taiwanese people.
Chen is confident that given the opportunity, the country would collectively declare that “Taiwanese people do not wish to be a part of China.”
Chen asserts that as Taiwan faces increasing pressure and threats from China, the need for a referendum as a method of public, non-violent resistance becomes ever greater.
Chen says it is unfortunate that the Tsai administration can only respond defensively to the continuing encroachment and coercive tactics of Beijing. However, given the circumstances, he suggests a public referendum would serve as a democratic tool that could be wielded offensively.
“We have no military strength, we are only able to confront (China) with democratic methods,” Chen was quoted in the interview.
Chen also criticized the Tsai administration for keeping its distance from the Japanese government under Shinzo Abe. Chen asserts that the current Japanese government has expressed more goodwill towards Taiwan that any of previous generations and it is regrettable Tsai Ing-wen has maintained a tepid relationship, rather than promoting closer, friendlier ties.
Speaking on the topic of U.S. and Taiwan relations, Chen said that now is a good time to develop better ties, and that Taiwan can use the current U.S.-China trade conflict to its advantage, however the former president also cautioned Taiwanese society not to expect too much from the Trump administration.
Chen also criticized Taiwan's previous Ma administration for their foreign policy and weak posturing in treating with the Chinese government.
Speaking on his own legal troubles and charges of corruption, Chen Shui-bian remarked that he has faced difficulties but says “this is the cross the (he) must bear for the democratization of Taiwan.”