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Chen's plan endangers peace across Straits
( 2004-01-19 23:18) (China Daily By Sun Shangwu)

Taipei's referendum is a "provocative act" that will increase confrontation and animosity with the mainland, a top official said in Beijing on Monday.

But State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan also reiterated Beijing's "most sincere" commitment to peaceful reunification and promised to better protect interests of Taiwan compatriots.

The real threat to Taiwan's security does not come from the mainland, but from the unbridled activities towards Taiwan's split from the motherland whipped up by authorities there, he said.

It is the "Taiwan splittist forces" that threaten to unravel the status quo in the cross-Straits relations and put peace in danger, Tang said.

He said Taiwan authorities have twisted the mainland's justified efforts to oppose the Taiwan's split with the motherland and maintain stability in the Straits "as a suppression of Taiwan's democracy and freedom."

Splittist forces are using China's peaceful efforts "as an excuse to launch the referendum," he noted.

Such people are turning the truth upside down to win more sympathy and support, he said.

"Though the leaders of the Taiwan authorities called the referendums 'defensive' and 'peaceful', these provocations, no matter how they were packaged, can only cause confrontation and animosity between the two sides, aggravate the already strained relations and push them further to the brink of danger," said Tang.

The State Councillor made the remarks at a forum held in Beijing Monday to commemorate the ninth anniversary of a speech made by Jiang Zemin in which he put forward an eight-point proposal on the development of cross-Straits relations and the advancement of peaceful reunification. Jiang's speech has been taken as the guiding document for the solution of the Taiwan question.

Such commemorative forums have been held since 1995 to give Beijing an opportunity to manifest its latest policy on Taiwan.

More than 300 people attended the forum, including top officials from the Communist Party of China, the National People's Congress, People's Liberation Army and democratic parties.

Press from Taiwan and Hong Kong were invited for the first time also to attend.

Tang said Taiwan's referendum plan "runs completely counter to the mainstream desire of the Taiwan compatriots for peace, tranquility and prosperity."

"Instead of deepening Taiwan's 'democracy,' it is a design to mislead and manipulate the Taiwan people," said Tang, adding it is also a serious threat to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian announced Friday a two-part referendum, which asks voters whether the island should beef up its anti-missile defence if the mainland refuses to withdraw missiles and renounce the threat of war against Taiwan. It also includes an option for Taiwan to open talks with the mainland.

The referendum move drew firm opposition from the Taiwan Affairs Office on Saturday.

Tang's remarks are seen as the latest stance from Beijing on Chen's referendum plan.

Tang also expressed a desire for peaceful reunification.

"The 23 million compatriots in Taiwan are our brothers and sisters. No one in the world is more desirous of seeking a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question than we are," he said.

"We stand for resolving the political differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits in a spirit of equality and accommodation, and we are ready to push the cross-Straits dialogue and negotiations in a pragmatic and equal-footed manner consistent with the one-China principle," he added.

Tang noted Taiwan's stance on "no pre-conditions for cross-Straits talks and negotiations," saying authorities there are trying to renege on the consensus reached by the two sides on the adherence to the one-China principle. That stance, he said, fundamentally negates the fact that the two sides belong to one and the same country.

"Their true motive is to presuppose national split and Taiwan independence, and to erect obstacles to negotiations," he concluded.

As long as the one-China principle is recognized, cross-Straits talks can cover any subject and the two sides will have complete equality in negotiating status, Tang said.

He said the talks would be broad and open, even the sensitive political issues could be put on the table for full discussion.

"As long as the two sides, in the context of the one-China principle, negotiate and reach an agreement on officially ending the state of hostility, tensions in the Taiwan Straits could be eased, and the steady growth of the cross-Straits could be guaranteed," said Tang.

He described those talks as "the most practical and most effective way to maintain Taiwan's security and ensure peace and stability in the Straits."

Tang also advocated for "an early realization of the 'three links,'" referring to direct shipping, postal and business links between the two sides.

He said the mainland wants to strengthen economic relations between the two sides and would like to hear the views and suggestions from the various circles in Taiwan.

Cross-Straits economic ties have been developing very rapidly in recent years. Yearly two-way trade has broken the US$50 billion mark.

The mainland, which has long been the largest source of Taiwan's trade surplus, is now Taiwan's largest export market. Taiwan has become the mainland's second largest import market.

Tang said the mainland still "place hope (of reunification) on the Taiwan people" and treats all Taiwan compatriots equally, regardless of their provincial origins.

"We do not discriminate against those who are adopting a wait-and-see, a suspicious, or even a negative or antagonistic attitude towards closer cross-Straits relations, as we are ready to have contact and interaction with them for increased understanding and greater identity of views," said Tang.

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