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Commentary: Taiwan treads tightrope
( 2003-12-05 23:56) (China Daily)

The Taiwan authorities' recent attempt to revise the island's "constitution" has angered the Chinese Government. If the separatists get their hands on the forbidden apple -- "Taiwan independence'' -- there will be serious consequences, said an article in the Outlook Weekly magazine.

Taiwan's "parliament'' passed a watered-down bill on November 27 that gave its island leader the power to hold a referendum in the event of "external attacks.''

The final wording changed from "making a new constitution'' to "revising the current constitution'' and scrapped references to a "consultative referendum.'' But we should remain cautious as it still included a clause referring to a "defensive referendum.''

The mainland has warned the Taiwan authorities against pursuing independence through referendums, demonstrating the utmost sensitivity of the issue and the mainland's determination to safeguard China's territorial integrity.

If the Taiwan separatists believe the potential costs of intervention will weaken the mainland's determination to act, they are absolutely wrong.

The cause of national reunification and safeguarding territorial integrity should override other considerations.

All the messages sent by the mainland may mean nothing to those diehard separatists. But Taiwan compatriots should see through the ugly plot conceived by some Taiwan politicians to avoid becoming their instrument.

The Taiwan authorities' fantasy of gaining US backing in its pursuit of independence is also groundless. Weighing up its own interests and all the possible consequences, the United States cannot afford to lose its stake in the Asia-Pacific region. The US Government has recently expressed its opposition to the island's independence attempt.

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