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Taipei urged not to misjudge Beijing's resolve
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-18 22:44

Mainland researchers on cross-Straits studies Tuesday urged Taiwan's pro-independence forces not to underestimate Beijing's determination to curb their separatist schemes through non-peaceful means.

They stressed that safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity is China's core national interests that overrides everything.

Sun Shengliang, an associate research fellow with the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it is extremely dangerous for Taipei to misjudge the mainland's firm opposition to Taiwan independence.

"It is both irresponsible and risky for separatist forces on the island to advocate that Beijing will dare not resort to the use of force to check Taiwan's pro-independence bid for fear of negative influences on its economic development and holding the 2008 Olympic Games," he told a news briefing.

The event was held after the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council was authorized to issue a tough statement early Monday warning Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian against moving the island towards independence.

Analysts said the move is aimed at pressurizing Chen to soften its radical separatist stance in his inauguration speech on May 20.

Xu Bodong, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Beijing United University, citing the statement as saying China will firmly crush any such schemes at any cost.

"The strong determination suggests the mainland is ready to afford to a slow-down in its modernization bid, a reversion in Sino-US ties and the boycott of the Olympic Games," he said.

"Nothing can override the importance of protecting part of the Chinese territory from being split from the motherland."

The researcher described the mainland statement as "an alert to people across the Taiwan Straits and the entire international community."

"It stated in explicit terms that Chen's desperate effort to pursue formal independence will lead to disastrous consequences in the Taiwan Straits," Xu added.

While promoting the peaceful reunification between Taiwan and the mainland, Beijing does not undertake to renounce the use of force in case of Taiwan declaring independence.

Chen, however, has stated time and again his intention to hold a referendum for the drafting of a new "constitution" in 2006 and enact the document in 2008.

Beijing views the plan as "a naked Taiwan independence timetable," which aims to permanently split the island from China.

Guo Zhenyuan, a senior researcher with the China Institute of International Studies, said the mainland places little hope on Chen to abandon his separatist stance.

"What Chen said and did during the past four years in office have proven him to be a changeable politician of broken promises and bad faith," he said.

Guo noted that Beijing has recognized Chen's nature as a diehard separatist member through the policy of "listening to his words and watching his deeds" introduced following his election as the new Taiwan leader in March 2000.

During his 2000 inaugural, Chen laid out his "four nos" vow, which requires Taiwan to refrain from declaring independence, changing the "national title," incorporating the concept of "state-to-state" relations between the island and the mainland in its "constitution" or promoting any referendum on changing the status quo in regard to independence.

But he has never lived up to his promises and even go as far to promote creeping pro-independence moves and advocate "one country at each side (of the Straits)."

In a related statement, Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said in a statement yesterday that the retally of the disputed March "presidential" elections has found more than 34,000 disputed ballots out of the 13 million cast.

The vote recount began on May 10 and was expected to be completed late yesterday.

"We have found more than enough irregularities to suspect legitimately that they were systematically committed," KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-cheng was quoted as saying.

"We'll get to the bottom and find out the truth and have justice done."

KMT is pushing for a merger with its smaller ally in a bid to consolidate their power after the disputed election.

The surprise proposal to join the KMT with the People First Party (PFP) will be discussed when the KMT's highest decisions-making body, the Central Standing Committee, meets today, KMT spokesman Justin Chou said yesterday.

Chen won the reelection by a razor-thin 0.2 per cent, or fewer than 30,000 votes, following an unexplained election-eve shooting that injured both Chen and his running mate Annette Lu.

Challenger Lien Chan of the KMT said has filed two lawsuits to overturn Chen's victory and seek a new election, citing voting irregularities and a record 330,000 spoiled ballots.

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