Defensive referendum manipulates democracy
( 2003-12-08 22:43) (China Daily)
Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was accused Monday of manipulating democracy to serve his own interests through his call for a "defensive referendum'' on March 20.
Mainland experts on cross-Straits studies said Chen's pursuit of Taiwan independence is the real threat to the island, rather than the mainland's military deployment.
The Taiwan leader's referendum push demonstrated that his chances of winning re-election bid in next year's "presidential'' polls are running out, said Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
He added that Chen's nearly four years in office was characterized by a sagging economy and soaring unemployment on the island and a failure to improve cross-Straits relations.
"That's why he has been sticking to the referendum issue as one of his major campaign tools to win votes,'' Li said.
The researcher noted that Chen's voting ploy is meant to provoke the mainland and trigger higher tensions in cross-Straits ties to give the public a false impression that the island is being bullied by the mainland.
Li made the comments after Chen announced on Sunday that he would hold an "anti-missile, anti-war'' plebiscite during "presidential'' elections in March.
The Taiwanese people would be allowed to vote on whether they want to formally demand that the mainland remove hundreds of missiles aimed at this island, Chen told a campaign rally in the northern city of Hsinchu.
Taiwan's "legislature'' passed a new referendum law late last month giving the Taiwan leader the power to hold a "defensive referendum'' if the island's "sovereignty'' faces an imminent threat.
Wu Nengyuan, director of the Institute of Modern Taiwan Studies under the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences, said Chen has deliberately tried to play up the mainland's military deployment, which targets only separatist forces.
Beijing has long made it clear that the use of force is mainly aimed at deterring pro-independence attempt by separatist forces on the island and intervention from foreign forces, according to Wu.
"Logically, the pursuit of Taiwan independence is the only and real threat to the island because there would never be the use of force if there were no separatist activities on the island,'' he said.
"Only a handful of die-hard separatists like Chen who hold to pro-independence conspiracy should fear the anti-independence military deployment.''
Wu said the Taiwan authorities should first abandon their pro-independence pursuit before asking Beijing to forgo the use of force.
While promoting the peaceful reunification of China, Beijing does not undertake to renounce the use of force in case of Taiwan declaring independence.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led by Chen enshrines Taiwan independence in its party platform and has refused to accept the one-China principle that both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.
Since taking office in May 2000, Chen has been taking a host of creeping pro-independence moves, which culminated with his aggressive claim that Taiwan is a separate country from China.
Chen has been counting on the purchase of billions of dollars of sophisticated arms from the United States to guarantee his push for Taiwan independence.
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