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Spokesman: Chen a threat to Straits peace
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-25 00:17

Beijing warned Monday that independence-minded Chen Shui-bian still poses a big threat to cross-Straits peace and stability despite conciliatory remarks in his May 20 inauguration address.

Zhang Mingqing, spokesman with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, described the Taiwan leaders' softening rhetoric as a cloak for independence.

Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. [newsphoto/file]

"Chen has apparently not pulled back from his dangerous lurch towards independence... and is riding near the edge of the cliff," he told a regular news conference.

The comments were Beijing's first official response to Chen's inaugural speech, which the Taiwan leader himself believed will help clear up misunderstandings across the Straits during his controvercial second four-year term.

Zhang accused Chen of refusing to accept the one-China principle that both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China.

Rather, he added, the content of the speech implied that Taiwan is an independent country although Chen made no reference to the words of "one country on each side (of the Straits)."

Beijing considers the one-China principle the basis for developing cross-Straits relations and maintaining peace and stability between Taiwan and the mainland.

"That suggests Chen has neither abandoned his pro-independence stance nor demonstrated real sincerity to improve cross-Straits relations," the spokesman said.

During his speech, Chen vowed within the next two years to work hard to promote the island as a sovereign country in the international arena and bring the island into the World Health Organization, which requires statehood for membership.

Zhang said the mainland has noticed Chen did not reiterate the pro-independence timetable to draft a new "constitution" through a referendum in 2006 and enact the document in 2008 due to great pressure from all sides.

"But Chen did use some vague phrases about territory and sovereignty in his speech which carry a foreshadowing of later Taiwan independence," he told reporters.

"So the root of tensions in the Taiwan Straits has not been eliminated and the potential peril affecting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region still exists."

In his inauguration speech, Chen did not completely rule out the possibility of touching on issues related to sovereignty, territory and the subject of reunification versus independence in the "constitutional" re-engineering project.

The Taiwan leader said only that as "consensus has yet to be reached on" such issues, he explicitly proposes that these particular issues be excluded from the present "constitutional" reforms.

Beijing views the plan for adopting a new "constitution" for the island as tantamount to a formal declaration of independence, which may trigger the use of non-peaceful means.

Zhang referred to the strongly worded May 17 statement issued by his office that warned that Taiwan independence does not lead to peace, nor national dismemberment to stability.

"If Chen obstinately sticks to the wrong course and moves recklessly on along the splittist road, then our only choice is to crush Taiwan independence schemes firmly and thoroughly at any cost," he cautioned.

The spokesman also stressed that cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges will be left unaffected in the future even though Chen will continue his pro-independence push.

"As our long-standing policy, we will as always make every effort to promote cross-Straits exchanges in the economic, trade and other fields and Taiwanese investment (in the mainland) will not be affected," he added.

Zhang, however, did warn that Beijing does not welcome any Taiwanese business people who "make money in the mainland and then go back to the island to support Taiwan independence."

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