Changing definition of territory needs social consensus: premier

2017/10/06 17:44:33
Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德)

Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德)

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) Asked if the country needs to modify the way its territory is defined by amending the Constitution, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said Friday that the issue depended on a social consensus, though he voiced support for constitutional change.

"Society and the country are progressing, and the Constitution should advance with the times," said Lai, in response to questions from opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Hsu Yu-jen (許毓仁) at a legislative hearing.

Lai, who took office on Sept. 8, caused controversy recently by describing himself as a "political worker who advocates Taiwan independence" and that his views would not change regardless of the political post he holds.

He added that "Taiwan is a nation with independent sovereignty, and its name is the Republic of China. The two sides (of the Taiwan Strait) have no links with each other."

Testing Lai's position on the issue Friday, Hsu asked that since the Republic of China (ROC) exists on Taiwan, and Taiwan is the ROC, does that mean the country needs to revise its Constitution to alter how its territory is defined?

Lai answered by saying that pushing for a constitutional amendment to alter how the territory is defined depends on a "social consensus."

A constitutional amendment proposal must undergo a referendum, but before that it requires the consent of at least three-fourths of the lawmakers present at a meeting attended by at least three-fourths of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, Lai said.

At present, the ROC Constitution defines the country's territory as the "territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries."

The Additional Articles of the Constitution further describe the territory as having two distinctive parts: a "free area" and a "mainland area."

Any move to more clearly define Taiwan's territory as limited to its current boundaries, completely separate from China, would be seen as a form of indirectly asserting independence, risking retaliation from Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its own territory.

Hsu further asked Lai if he supported the proposal by ruling Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) to amend the Additional Articles of the Constitution by adding a clause that defines cross-strait relations as the relations "between our country and the People's Republic of China."

Lai sidestepped the question, saying only that the president has the power to decide the country's future directions or national policies and that it was "inconvenient" for him to express his opinions at this moment.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Elizabeth Hsu)
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