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Cross-Straits ties threatened by protest
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-24 23:41

Cross-Straits relations may worsen if secessionist forces in Taiwan challenge the newly-passed Anti-Secession Law, leading mainland researchers warned yesterday in Beijing and elsewhere.

They cautioned the Taiwan leadership against the provocative remarks and actions which are anticipated at this weekend's planned anti-secession bill protest on the island.

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, from the pro-"independence" Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), confirmed yesterday that he and his family will be taking part in tomorrow's march.

At the same time, Chen called for 1 million people to join the DPP-organized protest in Taiwan.

Wang Baofu, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the National Defence University of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, expressed his worry that secessionist forces were taking advantage of the march to fan hatred and anti-mainland sentiment among the Taiwan public.

"It cannot be ruled out that a handful of diehard secessionists may take desperate moves to challenge the Anti-Secession Law," he said at a meeting of the Beijing-based Cross-Straits Relations Research Centre.

"They may further distort the bill to incite confrontation across the Taiwan Straits and poison bilateral ties."

The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, passed the 10-article Anti-Secession Law on March 14 in a bid to check the perceived intensification of secessionist activities on the island.

Wang added that the new legislation has effectively reduced manoeuvring room for secessionists pursuing "Taiwan independence" and may lead to a backlash from them. While promoting a peaceful reunification between Taiwan and the mainland, the bill stipulates that non-peaceful means and other necessary measures would be employed as a last resort should all efforts for a peaceful national reunification fail.

Promoting secession under the banner of "Taiwan independence" Chen has described the Anti-Secession Law as "a law of aggression."

The DPP and its ally the Taiwan Solidarity Union have even gone so far as to portray the bill as "a war mobilization order" that authorizes an attack against the island at any time.

Liu Guoshen, president of the Taiwan Research Academy at Xiamen University, said the demonization of the Anti-Secession Law reflects the secessionists' fear of the legislation.

"They are apparently attempting to deceive and mislead the public by cooking up an immediate military threat from the bill," he said.

"In fact, secessionist forces on the island know they themselves and their secessionist activities are the only target of the Anti-Secession Law."

Given Taipei's counteraction, the researcher predicted a short-term worsening and even the danger of recession in bilateral ties.

Possible retaliatory policies from the Taiwan authorities following tomorrow's rally also risk damaging the cross-Straits relationship, Liu added.

The ruling DPP authority has threatened to suspend economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and the mainland in the wake of the passage of the Anti-Secession Law.

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