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Chen slammed for independent stance
Updated: 2004-03-31 15:45

China and the U.S. repeated their opposition to Taiwan independence after Chen Shui-bian was quoted in media as saying his re-election victory is "a mandate to push for sovereignty."

The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council criticized Chen for his "stubborn adherence" to independence, said a report of the Xinhua news agency.

"Chen has once again wantonly advocated Taiwan independence," an unnamed spokesman was quoted as saying in the Xinhua report.

According to the report, the spokesman said: "Chen's comments in an interview with The Washington Post clearly and unmistakably show a continuous push for Taiwan independence and a stubborn stance for splitting Taiwan from China."

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. opposed "any unilateral steps that change the status quo across the Taiwan Straits."

Chen's comments came after a highly disputed election win by 0.2 percentage point.

His election victory was followed by street protests, legal action to force a recount and wide guesses that he faked his own shooting on the eve of the March 20 poll to win sympathy votes.

Chen said the island plans to enact a new "tailor-made, efficient constitution" in 2008, according to a transcript of his Washington Post interview printed by the China Post in Taipei. "This is just a timetable for our constitutional reform," he said in the transcript.

At a Washington press briefing, Boucher said Chen pledged in his 2000 inaugural address not to declare independence, not to change the name of the island, not to add the state-to-state doctrine into the constitution and not to promote a referendum to change the status quo, Boucher said.

"We appreciate those pledges from 2000 and the subsequent reaffirmations of it, and we still take it very seriously," Boucher said, according to the agency's Web site.

Taiwan's opposition parties weighed into the debate against Chen. Su Chi, a member of the National Security Division of the National Policy Foundation, a research division of the main opposition Nationalist Party -- Kuomintang, said the timing for Chen's remarks was "awkward."

"I was a little surprised that the strong hardline comments came out so soon after the election," Su said.

Another opposition party, the People First, accused Chen of "saying one thing to the people of Taiwan and another thing to the Washington Post," the China Post reported.

Chen Shui-bian and "Vice President" Annette Lu Tuesday signed and submitted a letter of consent to the "Taiwan High Court" allowing for a recount of the March 20 election.

Chen and Lu submitted the letter after the court confirmed it had received at 11pm on Monday the pan-blue camp's suit seeking to invalidate the result of the election.

In addition to the agreement from Chen and Lu, the court also requires agreement from the "Central Election Commission (CEC)" and its local branch offices to begin to recount, because Chen, Lu, the CEC and its branch offices were listed as defendants.

Once all the agreements have been collected, judges can skip hearings and order to begin a recount.

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