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Expert: Taiwan separatists undermine relations
( 2003-07-18 07:06) (China Daily)

Leading expert on Taiwanese studies warned yesterday that Taiwan's push for independence is threatening to undermine peace and stability in cross-Straits ties.

Tang talks with Guo Qunci,a scholar from Taiwan. [newsphoto]
"There are increasing dangers that separatist forces on the island are plotting to increase tensions in bilateral relations through a series of pro-independence moves,'' said Tang Shubei, director of the Beijing-based Cross-Straits Relations Research Centre, at a cross-Strait seminar held in Southwest China's scenic town of Lijiang.

The veteran researcher, a former executive vice-president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said such moves work against the interests of all Chinese people, including Taiwanese compatriots.

The meeting, attended by more than 130 scholars and researchers from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, is the largest cross-Straits academic exchange since the outbreak of SARS in April.

Tang accused Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration of attempting to push for a legislation on an islandwide referendum.

The new law will allow Taiwan to hold referendums on whether a partially built nuclear power plant should be completed and whether the island should join the World Health Organization.

But the legislation proposed by pro-independence DPP "lawmakers'' also has a clause specifically allowing a public vote to be held on independence in case of mainland attack.

The central government, which fears Taiwan's formal split from the motherland, has long warned that holding a referendum on independence will lead to the use of force against Taiwan.

Wang Zaixi, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said the mainland respects the wish of Taiwan compatriots to exercise basic rights (through referendums).

"But we strongly oppose any move to challenge the 'one-China' principle through the so-called referendum issue,'' Wang said on the sidelines of the seminar.

"And we are also firmly against taking advantage of the referendum to split Taiwan from the motherland.''

The DPP enshrines Taiwan independence in its party platform and favours a referendum to decide the island's future.

Beijing, however, cherishes the one-China principle that states both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.

Wang said Beijing is willing to push for closer cross-Straits exchanges in cultural, economic and academic sectors while leaving aside political disputes between the mainland and Taiwan.

The mainland will facilitate a reported plan by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to allow direct air cargo shipments as a preparation for full-blown direct transport links between the two sides, according to the official.

"We sincerely hope the Taiwan leader can honour his pledge and take practical steps to fully open up the three direct links to benefit the interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits,'' Wang said.

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