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June 27, 2017

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So far no US concern over referendum: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The United States government has not expressed concern over the possibility of Taiwan holding a national referendum to decide the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), head of the Foreign Ministry's Department of North American Affairs, made the remarks when asked by reporters if Washington has voiced concern over the ongoing debate in Taiwan on whether or not to hold a referendum to decide the fate of the power plant, which is currently under construction in New Taipei City's Gongliao District (貢寮).

Asked to comment on the same issue yesterday, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), a former DPP Department of International Affairs chief, said that the U.S. does not have an opinion on whether or not Taiwan conducts referendums on domestic public policies.

"The U.S. won't care if Taiwan holds a referendum or not as long as (the referendum in question) does not concern Taiwan's independence or sovereignty," Hsiao said.

It is a common thing in the U.S. for different states to regularly hold referendums on different domestic issues such as gay marriage, she said.

But the U.S. would be concerned if the subject of the referendum was centered on Taiwan independence, because Washington believes that the issue concerns its national interest, Hsiao added.

Opposition lawmakers and anti-nuclear groups have been calling for a referendum to decide whether or not to scrap the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, which they believe poses a high risk to the island's safety.

They have been demanding that the threshold for referendums be lowered, while the Cabinet has been insisting on the existing threshold, which requires the participation of more than half of the nation's eligible voters in order for a valid result to be determined.

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