President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday signed a document ordering that the National Unification Council (NUC) will "cease to function" and that the Guidelines for National Unification will "cease to apply" as an irate Beijing continued to thunder yesterday about his "splittist" activities.
Chen made the decision on the council and guidelines on Monday after chairing a National Security Council meeting.
Later yesterday he defended his actions to an audience commemorating the 228 Incident, calling the council and guidelines "products of absurdity" that were "created in a police state."
In response, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), with the endorsement of KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (
Ma said yesterday that although impeaching Chen is unlikely given the vote threshold required, the opposition nonetheless needed to express its disapproval of Chen.
Chen asked why the KMT was planning to impeach him over the scrapping of the council and guidelines when Ma had already acknowledged that independence was an option for the country.
"If what Ma says is true and comes from the bottom of his heart, the KMT should have supported the decision I made today," Chen said at a ceremony at the 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei.
"I'd like to ask you something: Is A-bian [Chen] wrong? Is A-bian wrong? Is A-bian wrong by returning the right of choosing their future to the 23 million people of Taiwan?" he said in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese).
The audience responded, "No, no, no."
Chen told the audience that his decision to cease the operations of the council and the guidelines did not change the "status quo" in the Taiwan Strait. Instead, he said, it prevented the "status quo" from being changed unilaterally.
"Taiwan is an independent sovereign state," Chen said. "The sovereignty of the nation lies with the people of Taiwan. Only the 23 million people of Taiwan have the right to decide the future of Taiwan."
"Today, with the unification council and guidelines officially entering the history books, I hand you, the great people of Taiwan, the right to decide your own future, without setting any preconditions," he said.
Chen said it was his mission to safeguard the lives and property of the Taiwanese people, and that he hoped the public would support his decision on the council and guidelines.
Branding the unification council and guidelines as "products of absurdity rendered in an absurd era" and "products created in a police state," Chen said that the KMT had failed to ask the public whether they wanted the council or guidelines when they were established 15 years ago.
"It [the KMT] openly stripped the people of their democratic right to choose, and I believe most Taiwanese people do not want to continue to accept such an historical absurdity," the president said.
China, in its first official statement on the matter, criticized Chen yesterday for "leading the nation towards disaster" and "endangering regional peace."
The statement called the move Chen's "first step toward his goal of achieving de jure independence for Taiwan."
"We will never permit Taiwan independence and splittist forces under any name or under any form to separate Taiwan from the motherland," China's Taiwan Affairs Office said in the statement.