Tue, Mar 15, 2005 - Page 1 News List

MAC blasts law as an `irrational act'

HARSH CRITICISM Taiwan's officials said an apology and concrete gestures from China were needed to salvage cross-strait relations after it passed the `anti-secession' law

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH AFP AND AP

Taiwan Solidarity Union officials burn the Chinese flag to protest Beijing's ``anti-secession'' law hours after it was passed by China's National People's Congress yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan says it wants to see conciliatory gestures -- including an apology -- from China to repair the damage that Beijing's "anti-secession" law has done to cross-strait relations.

Officials in Taipei slammed the legislation as an "irrational act" and expressed its "severest condemnation." But they added that there are still no plans to hold a referendum in response to the law, and that the government will not interfere with any possible response by the legislature.

"At this point, the most important step is that the Chinese government should sincerely apologize to the Taiwanese people for their grave mistake," the nation's top cross-strait policymaker, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), said yesterday while giving the official response to Beijing's anti-secession law.

Wu added that an apology had to be more than just rhetoric.

"Actions speak louder than words; the Taiwanese people have no interest in hearing what the Chinese government has to say but rather in what actions they will take," Wu said, adding that whether an action constituted an apology would be determined after the fact. He did say, however, that renouncing military aggression was one way China could repair relations.

Wu spoke yesterday after China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, passed the anti-secession law as it closed its 10-day annual session, with an overwhelming majority of 2,896 votes for the law and none against. Two delegates abstained.

The text of the 10-article law, as released by the official Xinhua news agency, calls for the use of "non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," if other measures fail. This will be necessary "in the event that the `Taiwan independence' secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China," the law said.

Military action could also be taken if "major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted."

The law does not spell out what is meant by "non-peaceful" means but analysts believe it would cover anything from a naval blockade to surgical missile strikes and an all-out invasion. The law took effect yesterday.

While Wu stressed yesterday that the council would continue to make "peace and development of cross-strait relations" its core policy objectives, he said yesterday that it was "not interested" in Beijing's proposal to jointly operate cross-strait chartered flights over Tomb-sweeping Day on April 5. Before yesterday, the council had no definite response on the matter, even though Beijing had renewed its proposal by inviting aviation representatives to start up talks on the flights last Friday.

"The anti-secession law is so vicious and yet at the same time, Beijing puts out charter flights. This is adding insult to injury," Wu said, calling such proposals "petty."

He said China should express its sincerity by apologizing to Taiwan first.

While China had been moving towards operating cross-strait charters regularly on weekends and holidays, Wu said that airline carriers did not feel such flights were profitable.

He also said that it was likely that cooperation on cross-strait cargo flights would be unacceptable to the general public at this point. The council has been eyeing cargo flights since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed to make cooperation on cross-strait cargo flights a priority last month, but Beijing's response was to put such flights to the side and focus primarily on passenger charters instead.

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