On the last day of February Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), both former Presidents of Taiwan, came out in support of a push for a referendum on Taiwanese independence to be held in April 2019.
Lee called the referendum the “most powerful weapon” that the Taiwanese people posses in order to establish Taiwan as a “normal country”.
He also said that this would allow Taiwan to push to join international organizations such as the United Nations, from which the island nation has long been excluded. This something that many leaders and citizens have been attempting to do for many years.
Currently Taiwan is only recognized by 20 countries around the world. This is due almost entirely to the efforts of China, which has also essentially forced Taiwan to adopt the official moniker of the “Republic of China”.
The referendum was initially launched by Formosa TV Chairman Kuo Bei-hong (郭倍宏), and was attended by leaders of various pro-independence groups.
April 6, 2019 also has a special meaning for those in the pro-independence movement. It is the 30th anniversary of the death of Deng Nan-jung (鄭南榕). Deng was a advocate for Taiwan democracy and independence who self-immolated April 7, 1989.
Even though in numerous polls Taiwanese citizens consider themselves a distinct nation, separate from China, and more Taiwanese identify as so rather than Chinese, these pro-independence activists and politicians still have a fight on their hands.
Taiwan’s Referendum Act was updated in December 2017. However, even though this made it easier to reach a threshold for raising referendums, topics such as national sovereignty are still unable to be determined by referendum.
Many are now calling on the DPP to once again amend the act in order for issues, namely the sovereignty of Taiwan to be determined by a popular vote.