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US urged to be straight on one China
( 2003-11-20 00:06) (China Daily)

While criticizing Washington's furtive support for pro-independence activities, leading mainland experts on Taiwan studies yesterday urged the United States to stop sending wrong signals to separatist forces on the island.

Xu Shiquan, vice-chairman of the National Society of Taiwan Studies, said the US encouragement for Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian should be partially blamed for his recent radical push for a formal independence.

"Despite its pledge not to be involved in the island's elections, Washington has created a harmful impression that it has thrown weight behind Taiwan independence,'' he told a news conference.

The researcher said Washington should send a clear-cut signal that the United States opposes Taiwan independence.

"That's because mixed and ambiguous messages and wrong signals are set to encourage die-hard separatist members to take more aggressive and provocative pro-independence actions,'' he noted.

Xu stressed that Chen's extreme push for independence not only impairs the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region but also undermines the Sino-US relations.

Conniving Taiwan independence is a very dangerous act, which goes against the American national interests, he added.

His comments came in response to a recent spree of closer US-Taiwan ties, which observers say has greatly boosted Chen's popularity even among moderate voters.

Breaking its decades-old practice of limiting a Taiwan leader's activities in the United States to an unofficial level, Washington gave Chen unprecedented access to the media and freedom to travel during his recent stopover in New York.

The Taiwan leader was even provided an international occasion to trumpet his plan for introducing a new "constitution'' and referendum legislation, aimed at paving the way for a formal independence.

Later while attending a centennial celebration in Panama, US Secretary of State Colin Powell shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with Chen.

It was the highest-level contact between the United States and Taiwan since Washington cut diplomatic ties with the island in 1979 and recognized Beijing.

Inspired by the rare moves, pro-independence forces hailed Chen's US transit and Powell-Chen meeting as a breakthrough in bilateral ties and took them as Washington's acquiescence for the separatist bid.

Zhu Weidong, assistant director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US gesture has been played up by Chen to his self-interest.

"The election-minded Chen is cannily taking advantage of the US behaviour to campaign for his splittist agenda,'' he said.

"Wrong signals in any form from Washington will add force to Taiwan independence and spur Chen to take much bolder steps towards independence.''

The researcher said Chen's pursuit of Taiwan independence could ultimately create troubles for the United States.

Despite its repeated commitment to the one-China policy, the United States still remains the island's biggest arms supplier.

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