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Commentary: Pro-separatists' move risky
( 2003-11-21 10:17) (China Daily)

Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian recently made a dangerous move by unveiling a timetable for a new constitution through referendum. He states the island's new constitution will be completed on December 10, 2006, and come into force on May 20, 2008, when the island's new leader is inaugurated.

The schedule for the new constitution, which is expected to provide Chen a "legal" basis for independence, is essentially the schedule for Chen to separate Taiwan from China.

The move is not only Chen's new political manoeuvre to win re-election in the coming "presidential" competition, but also the latest development in his conspiracy for independence.

He further betrayed his "Five Nos" commitment, such as not to pursue Taiwan independence and not to push for a constitution through referendum.

But fundamental reasons behind Chen's increasing audacity for pursuing independence should be examined.

Chen and his ilk would not have had the temerity to go farther and farther against the will of the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots, without support from foreign pro-Taiwan forces, especially those in the United States.

The Taiwan issue would have never become a question without the continuous US intervention.

On the one hand, the United States gave its commitment to adhere to the one-China policy and not to support Taiwan independence. On the other hand, it gives Taiwan oral and material support, thus laying down a serious obstacle to mainland-island reunification.

When Chen made his political pronouncement, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Tuesday immediately lent his support by his remark that the Bush administration would deploy sufficient forces in the Asia-Pacific area and provide Taiwan with "sufficient defence articles for her self-defence."

As well, the United States recently provided a platform for Chen Shui-bian's independence stand on his way to and from Panama.

It is exactly this kind of support from the United States that has helped add fuel to Taiwan independence forces' conspiracy.

According to international law and norms, the United States should have completely halted its weapons sales to Taiwan after establishing diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1979, given that Taiwan is an integral part of China.

But the United States has not been as good as its word claiming its support for China's reunification.

Shortly after setting up formal ties with China, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which sets the US to provide Taiwan defensive weapons "to protect the island from the mainland's military threats."

By this act, Washington has been using its domestic legislation to interfere in the internal affairs of China.

The act is completely in conflicts with the US one-China policy and its commitment not to support Taiwan independence.

Offering Taiwan almost all treatments that sovereign countries enjoy with the United States, the act has provided Taiwan with the largest incentive to seek independence.

Meanwhile, its unceasing arms sales to Taiwan may also be interpreted by separatists as US support for Taiwan independence, thus binding the United States upon the war chariot of Taiwan independence.

It's a fact that the United States has enormous economic interests in Taiwan, and it is also understandable that the United States is concerned about how the mainland and Taiwan are reunited, peacefully or by force.

But the US concern does not provide with an excuse to intervene in China's internal affairs.

No one wants a peaceful reunification between the mainland and Taiwan more than the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

But the Chinese people also have the right of reserving an effective military means to smash any Taiwan independence attempt, as the US union army soldiers led by President Lincoln did in their battles against the separatist confederate army between 1861-1865.

While forgetting how the US has prospered as a result of crashing the separatist confederates' conspiracy and war efforts, the United States has been harbouring deliberate ambiguity in their dealing with the mainland and Taiwan and hindering the efforts of the Chinese to reunify the country.

The United States has kept the two contradictory policies for many years at the sacrifice of the interests of China.

The US feels that it has the most to gain by clinging to its two-line policy.

But the United States will miscalculate the situation if it continues to hold onto its past mentality.

The current cross-Straits situation is not the mainland pursuing reunification by force, but Taiwan separatists stepping up their independence programme by relying upon sophisticated weaponry from the United States.

Independence simply means war.

The US perspective of Taiwan as its "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War is no longer suitable. And its ambiguous strategy across the Taiwan Straits does not work any more.

It is time for the United States to re-orient its policy towards cross-Straits relations and rid Taiwan separatists of any expectation for continuous foreign hindrance in the Chinese efforts to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.

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