Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 4 News List

`Irrational' China should mind its own business: Tsai

REUTERS , TAIPEI

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told China to mind its own business yesterday after Beijing said Taiwan was risking war by pushing for a new constitution and referendums.

The Cabinet said China was being "irrational" and interfering with its internal affairs, and Taiwan's top policymaker for Chinese affairs criticized Beijing for persistently using the threat of force.

"Military threat is not an effective solution to cross-strait problems. It shouldn't even be an option," Tsai said in a speech to delegates of the Overseas Chinese Commission yesterday.

For two straight days, China's state-run press had focused on its Taiwan policy.

Wang Zaixi (王在希), vice minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, was quoted as saying on Wednesday that Taiwan's "extreme push for independence" crosses China's red line and risks war.

Analysts say that while China is closely watching developments in Taiwan, an escalation of tensions was not expected for now.

"China sees the issues of a new constitution and referendum as hot potatoes in cross-strait relations," said Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), a China watcher at National Chengchi University.

"But I don't expect China to go beyond rhetoric before the election in March because past experience shows it will only fan anti-China sentiment in Taiwan," he said.

Washington said on Wednesday it would be unacceptable to use force to settle the long-standing dispute between China and Taiwan, and opposed any attempt by either side to unilaterally change the status quo.

As part of his re-election campaign, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has angered China by calling for a new constitution and a law that allows referendums to be held to decide major policy issues.

Chen has said both steps would deepen democracy in Taiwan

But analysts think Chen is using them as tools to prod the nation's ambiguous political status quo and push it towards a permanent split from China.

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