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Reunification move gets push abroad
( 2004-01-14 23:33) (China Daily by Xing Zhigang)

More and more overseas Chinese are showing their support for Beijing's push for reunification with Taiwan, which has become tougher since the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came into power on the island in May 2000.

The DPP administration led by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian has gone all out to promote creeping independence moves through a "de-Sinofication'' policy in the ideology, culture, history and education sectors.

Clinging to his party's pro-independence stand, Chen has refused to accept the one-China principle that there is only one China in the world; and both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China.

Instead, the Taiwan authorities have been engaging in plots beyond the island to internationalize the Taiwan question and create "one China, one Taiwan'' and "two Chinas'' mainly through so-called "money diplomacy'' and "transit diplomacy''.

The emerging challenge to Beijing's sacred goal of reunifying Taiwan and the mainland has prompted it to collect any possible support from both home and abroad to curb the splittist attempt and guarantee final reunification.

Wang Kebin, secretary-general of the Beijing-based China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification, says the success of his job -- to promote peaceful reunification -- is largely linked to the future of both sides of the Straits.

"Given the current grave situation in cross-Straits relations, we should step up efforts to promote the Chinese Government's long-standing policy of peaceful reunification,'' he tells China Daily in an exclusive interview.

"The more support we gain, the more chances of avoiding the use of force.''

Bent on provocative actions to woo votes in the "presidential'' elections in March, Chen has taken radical steps towards independence by proposing a "defensive referendum'' on election day and the writing of the island's new "constitution.''

The pro-independence push is crossing Beijing's bottomline and runs a high risk of dragging the two sides of the Straits into disaster, Wang says.

Threat to stability

He stresses that Chen's splittist plot to change the status quo is posing the biggest threat to stability and peace in cross-Straits relations.

Wang's organization was established in September 1988 at the suggestion of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

As a non-governmental body, the council devotes itself to advocating peaceful reunification between both sides of the Taiwan Straits and opposing Taiwan independence all over the world.

Wang says Beijing has chosen peaceful reunification as the best way of reunifying Taiwan and the mainland because it conforms to the fundamental interests of the whole Chinese nation.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Beijing had vowed to "liberate'' Taiwan through military means.

But in the early 1980s, the Chinese top leadership put forward its basic policy regarding the settlement of the Taiwan question -- "peaceful reunification'' and "one country, two systems.''

In short, it means the reunification of China by peaceful means and the co-existence of socialist and capitalist systems within a reunified China.

The significant policy change has well demonstrated Beijing's respect for the common aspirations of the entire Chinese people, according to Wang.

"In the eyes of the Chinese Government, the use of force is absolutely not the best way to achieve national reunification,'' he notes.

"It would be a great tragedy for all if Chinese people on both sides of the Straits were to be drawn into fratricide.''

Beijing maintains that sticking to peaceful reunification and not undertaking to renounce the use of force are complementary and a unity of opposites.

It claims that non-commitment to renouncing the use of force is not targetted at Taiwan compatriots but at attempts of foreign forces to intervene in China's reunification and instigate Taiwan independence.

Peaceful means

In fact, the Chinese Government and the Chinese people have been standing firm on the established policy while making unremitting efforts to strive for reunification through peaceful means over the past two decades.

Wang says non-governmental pro-reunification organizations, including his council, have played a major role during the process and their hard work has initially paid off.

So far, about 120 organizations for the promotion of peaceful national reunification have been set up in 80 countries and regions around the world.

They held a number of influential international conferences in cities such as Tokyo, Berlin and Sydney in the past few years, giving wide publicity to the peaceful cross-Straits reunification bid to the world community.

This has signalled widespread support for the reunification between Taiwan and the mainland among more than 50 million overseas Chinese living around the world, Wang says.

Taiwan authorities' plot to sell the separatist ideas beyond the island has repeatedly been dealt a heavy blow due to objections from, and boycotts by, overseas Chinese.

When former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui introduced his notorious "two states'' theory in July 1999, he met strong opposition from overseas Chinese groups and was branded "traitor of the Chinese nation.''

Lee's theory defines the ties between both sides of the Taiwan Straits as a state-to-state relationship, which goes against the pro-reunification pursuit cherished by overseas Chinese.

Chen almost suffered the same shame as his predecessor when he tried to advocate "one country on each side (of the Taiwan Straits)'' remarks in August 2002.

The large global anti-separatism and pro-reunification campaign has been partially benefited by the mass outflow of students and emigrants from the Chinese mainland to foreign countries, especially Western nations.

China's wider opening-up and booming economy have allowed easier access by the Chinese citizens to overseas travel and emigration, providing more opportunities for them to push the idea of peaceful reunification wherever they are.

Splittist conspiracy

Meanwhile, Taiwan authorities' de-Sinofication policy and splittist conspiracy have gradually alienated itself from a great number of the old generation of Chinese emigrants, who moved abroad before 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded.

Most of the traditional overseas Chinese associations consisting of the old generation of Chinese emigrants usually throw their weight behind the "republic of China'' but hold out for the eventual reunification between Taiwan and the mainland.

A rising number of these groups, however, have now switched their support for the mainland due to their strong opposition to the DPP administration's creeping pro-independence moves to split the island from China.

Wang says more Chinese emigrants, including those from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, are joining efforts to check any separatist scheme to divide China and safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland.

The work by overseas Chinese has also contributed a lot to winning support from foreign governments and the mainstream opinion of overseas nations for China's peaceful reunification.

Tomas C. Tiu, president of the European Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, says overseas Chinese enjoy a unique advantage in promoting understanding about China's reunification bid on the international stage.

He adds that one of the main tasks of his association is to help win support from foreign government leaders and lawmakers for the eventual reunification.

To achieve that goal, his organization regularly organizes some symposiums and meetings to explain China's policy of peaceful reunification and "one country, two systems'' to local audiences in European nations, Tiu says.

Currently, about 140 countries, including the United States, have established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.

International isolation

In contrast, Taiwan is recognized by only 26 nations, most of them small and poor ones in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Zhang Minqing, assistant director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, thinks highly of the positive role of overseas organizations in defending the one-China principle and opposing pro-independence activities.

"Through their joint and concerted efforts, these organizations have successfully launched a global campaign to combat separatist attempts and promote peaceful reunification on the international front,'' he says.

"They should also be credited for their work to deepen the international community's understanding about the Taiwan question.''

Despite the achievement, Wang admits that the overseas bid to promote peaceful reunification is still facing great challenges ahead.

"The DPP administration is fiercely competing with Beijing to win the hearts and minds of overseas Chinese to push ahead with its splittist scheme,'' he says.

As a major effort to drum up their separatist ideas, the Taiwan authorities helped set up the so-called World Taiwanese Congress in the United States in January 2001.

The congress has since held several forums to counteract the spreading influence of overseas associations for the promotion of peaceful national reunification.

Wang discloses that some overseas branches of the DPP have even instigated a handful of die-hard splittist members to threaten the safety of the activists promoting the peaceful reunification.

And more promoters of peaceful reunification of China among overseas Chinese have taken up the volunteer job at the risk of losses in their own business.

"In a sense, a tremendous number of overseas Chinese are fighting for national unity with their time, money and even lives,'' he says emotively.

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