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Chen's move 'will trigger serious crisis'
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-27 05:20

Beijing issued a fresh warning to Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian yesterday, telling him to immediately drop the "dangerous" plan to scrap the island's council and guidelines on unification with the mainland.

A statement released by the cabinet-level Taiwan Affairs Office said Chen's scheme is aimed at paving the way for Taiwan's de jure "independence" through the "constitutional re-engineering" project.

"The escalated secessionist push of Chen Shui-bian will certainly trigger a serious crisis across the Taiwan Straits and destroy peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," it said.

"This has proved that 'pro-independence' activities are the biggest threat to cross-Straits peace ... and Chen Shui-bian is really a troublemaker to Taiwan, cross-Straits ties and the Asia-Pacific region."

The statement comes as Chen presses ahead with his plan to dissolve the council and the guidelines, which reportedly could happen as early as tomorrow.

The Taiwan leader inflamed new tension in the Straits last month by proposing to dismantle the guidelines and the council, set up in 1990 by the then Kuomintang administration as the island's top policy-making body on ultimate unification with the mainland.

If Chen abandons the council and the guidelines, he would break a promise during his 2000 inauguration speech not to do so. He renewed that promise in 2004 after he was narrowly re-elected for a second and final term.

The mainland statement said Chen's move to breach his own promise signifies "the bankruptcy of his political faith and moral personality."

"He is gambling with cross-Straits peace and the interests of all Taiwan people to take a more extreme secessionist path," it noted.

The document accused Chen of inciting tensions to distract public attention from his political and economic failings.

"Chen Shui-bian is doomed to get into more trouble as he attempts to break away from troubles through measures harmful to Taiwan people," it said, adding "Taiwan independence" will never be tolerated.

Along with Beijing's stepped-up pressure on Chen, the United States has also launched another effort to persuade Chen to retain the "national unification council."

Taipei-based United Daily News reported that Richard Armitage, former US deputy secretary of state, is to visit Taiwan to warn Chen of the possible negative impacts on regional stability if he went ahead with his controversial proposal.

Analysts believe that Armitage's visit is Washington's last-ditch effort to convince Chen to abandon his plan because the United States fears eliminating the guidelines could be another step of Chen's efforts to push for "independence."

Local newspapers have said Washington's envoy Dennis Wilder, the acting National Security Council director for Asia, quietly visited Taipei over the issue earlier this month, but Chen has refused to back down.

In a related development, Singapore said on Friday it opposed Taiwan's "unilateral" moves to scrap guidelines for unification with the Chinese mainland.

A spokesman for the city-state's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement this would be "unhelpful" to cross-Straits relations.

(China Daily 02/27/2006 page1)

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