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Experts: Mainland has seen through Chen
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-19 22:48

Beijing is not interested nor does it care about what Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian says in his inaugural address today, mainland researchers on cross-Straits studies said Wednesday.

That's because the mainland has seen through Chen's nature as a politician who clings to a separatist stance and is notorious for his bad faith and lack of political credibility.

The researchers made the remarks at a news conference to elaborate on a May 17 statement jointly issued by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Central Party Committee and State Council.

The strongly worded statement said it is the most pressing task for the compatriots on both sides of the Straits to put a resolute check on the pro-independence activities.

Media reports quoted Chen's deputy secretary-general Joseph Wu as saying the Taiwan leader will "express goodwill" to the mainland in today's inauguration speech.

"No matter how sweet the words are in the inauguration speech, they are nothing but a game of words to mislead and deceive the public and international community," said Xu Shiquan, vice-chairman of the National Society of Taiwan Studies.

Professor Li Yihu of Peking University stressed that Beijing will not pay real attention to Chen's speech.

The mainland will make its due response in accordance with Chen's specific policies and actions in the future, he said.

In his inauguration speech, Chen is also expected to discuss his intention to forge ahead with plans for a new "constitution," which Beijing views as tantamount to formal independence.

Following his disputed re-election in the March "presidential" polls, the Taiwan leader has time and again drummed up his plans to hold a referendum on a new constitution in 2006 and adopt it in 2008.

The experts warned that Chen's pro-independence timetable threatens to trigger war across the Straits by crossing Beijing's bottom line and constituting "a grave turn of events leading to the separation of Taiwan from China" as defined in a key government white paper entitled "One-China Principle and the Taiwan Question."

The document, issued on February 21, 2000, says "if a grave turn of events occurs leading to the separation of Taiwan from China in any name... the Chinese Government will only be forced to adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force, to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and fulfill the great cause of reunification."

"If Chen tries to change the cross-Straits status quo through enacting a new 'constitution,' it will undoubtedly be a separatist move that cannot be tolerated by the Chinese Government and Chinese people," said Zhu Weidong, assistant director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He said the cross-Straits status quo means both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China, as defined by the one-China principle.

The status quo is legally supported and recognized by laws in Taiwan and the mainland as well as international laws such as the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Declaration, the researcher added.

Since taking power on May 20, 2000, Chen has refused to accept the one-China principle while engaging in splittist activities to promote "one country on each side (of the Straits)."

Opposition parties set to merge

In another development, Taiwan's two biggest opposition parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP), Wednesday announced a merger plan.

"It was unanimously approved by the Central Standing Committee," Lien Chan, chairman of the KMT, told a crowd of cheering supporters.

He added that the merger was in response to public calls to consolidate opposition forces and help stabilize Taiwan politics.

Chen from the pro-independence ruling Democratic Progressive Party won the latest election by a razor-thin 0.2 per cent, or fewer than 30,000 votes, following a mysterious election-eve shooting that injured both Chen and his running mate Annette Lu.

Lien has filed two separate lawsuits to overturn Chen's victory, citing voting irregularities and a record 333,000 spoiled ballots.

The opposition plans to hold a protest rally coinciding with Chen's inauguration.

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