TAIPEI, Taiwan, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian seemed set on having a referendum for U.N. membership, which China said is a ploy to promote the island’s independence.
Speaking in Taipei, Chen said the proposed referendum set for March is a natural part of the country's democratic development, the Taipei Times reported Wednesday.
Although Taiwan has little chance of gaining U.N. membership, the plebiscite would make Taiwan the official name of the country.
China, which claims Taiwan is its province, opposes the referendum move. The United States is concerned it will aggravate tensions in the region.
Chen was quoted as saying the referendum under the name “Taiwan” would allow its 23 million people to tell the world what values and ideals they want to pursue and that it would be in keeping with U.S. interests.
Blaming China for Taiwan’s failure in its previous membership attempts, Chen said, “This makes us realize that it is useless to use a compromised name to apply for membership. Taiwan can only face the world with the name 'Taiwan' because Taiwan is the name of our country and our motherland.”