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Last Updated: Friday, 1 February 2008, 15:29 GMT
Taiwan set to hold UN referendums
UN for Taiwan torch relay (3 November 2007)
Taiwan launched a torch relay to highlight its UN bid in November
Taiwan will hold two referendums next month on joining the United Nations, the island's election commission says.

The commission's secretary-general, Teng Tien-yu, said the votes would be held on 22 March, the same day as the forthcoming presidential election.

The two referendums have been proposed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Kuomintang.

Taiwan has no seat at the UN, having lost it to China in 1971. Its attempts to regain membership have been blocked.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled to the island as the Communist Party swept to power.

The island's latest attempt to rejoin the UN, for the first time under the name Taiwan, was blocked in September.

'Provocative policy'

Mr Teng said the DPP-proposed referendum next month would ask whether voters "agree that the government should seek to join the UN in the name of Taiwan to express Taiwanese people's will and enhance Taiwan's international status".

TAIWAN-CHINA RELATIONS
Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

The referendum proposed by opposition KMT, which wants closer ties with China, will meanwhile ask whether the island should seek to "return to the UN with a pragmatic and flexible approach".

The KMT referendum proposes joining the UN using either the official name, Republic of China, Taiwan or any other suitable designation.

The US has already said it strongly opposes both parties' proposals.

"From the perspective of the United States, the conduct of such a referendum is a mistake," US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said last month.

"We think it is a provocative policy on the part of the Taiwanese authorities and we think that it certainly would have been preferable had not such a referendum been scheduled," he added.

Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, has defended the DPP's referendum, saying it is not provocative but "only a policy that respects public opinion".

SEE ALSO
Taiwan UN bid 'provocative' - US
21 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan torch relay for UN entry
24 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan shows off military might
10 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
UN rejects membership for Taiwan
19 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan applies for UN membership
20 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan to rename Chiang landmark
19 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: China
11 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Taiwan
15 Sep 07 |  Country profiles

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