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Taiwan separatists target Olympics
( 2003-11-21 22:18) (China Daily)

Taiwanese separatists plan to turn the Beijing 2008 Olympics into a "hostage'' to their cause, observers said on Friday.

Xu Bodong, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Beijing Union University, yesterday accused Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian of preparing to exploit the international gathering by using "an extremely immoral act and dirty trick.''

"The plot by Chen to take advantage of the Olympics to seek independence is a severe challenge not only to the Chinese people and over 50 million overseas Chinese but also to all humanity,'' he told a press conference.

"It goes against the popular will and the common aspirations of people all around the world for peace and stability.''

Xu's comments at the event, organized by the State Information Office, were in response to Chen's recent introduction of a pro-independence timetable.

Chen has pledged to bring a new "constitution'' to the island on December 10, 2006 and put it into force on May 20, 2008.

Xu said the timing of Chen's separatist plan was partially based on the belief that the mainland would be too busy preparing for the Olympics to deal with the island's separatist push.

Die-hard separatists led by former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui consider the year 2008 the best opportunity for the island to establish the so-called "Republic of Taiwan.''

Xu said this is based on the view that Beijing would be reluctant to use force at that time for fear of boycotts at the 2008 Olympics and huge damage to its international image.

But he stressed that the year 2008 would be as bad as any other year for Taiwan to declare formal independence.

"There will be no Olympic break for Taiwan independence,'' the researcher told reporters.

"The timetable for independence is in fact a timetable for the mainland to achieve the reunification of China through non-peaceful means.''

Li Zhaojie, a professor of international law at Tsinghua University, went further, saying it is both ridiculous and dangerous to expect the Chinese Government to eat the bitter fruit of sovereignty and territorial separation just because of the Olympics.

"Anybody with common sense will not believe that any country, including China, would hold the Olympics at the cost of territorial integrity,'' he said.

Illegitimate referendum

At the press conference, Zhu Weidong, assistant director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also said it would be illegal for Taiwan, as part of China, to propose a referendum on changing its status quo.

In line with international law and practice, he explained, any inalienable part of one nation has neither the legal right nor qualification to unilaterally secede from that nation through self-determination or referendum.

For example, Corse Island in France and Quebec in Canada were refused their demands for separation.

"If a handful of separatist members in Taiwan must ask for a referendum, it has to be held among all 1.3 billion Chinese people, including mainland people,'' Zhu said.

Xu Shiquan, vice-chairman of the National Society of Taiwan Studies, cautioned that Beijing would have "no other option'' but to use force if the island pursued independence under the disguise of democracy.

He referred to the American Civil War from 1861 and 1865 in defence of federal unity to highlight the determination of the Chinese Government to curb any separatist scheme -- with military action, if necessary.

Citing President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, the researcher said, "Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.''

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