Sat, Jul 31, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Negotiations under threat: Chiu

UNIFICATION LAW The Mainland Affairs Council said that China's attempt to legislate the annexation of Taiwan would send the wrong message to the world

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Beijing would significantly curtail the possibility of cross-strait negotiations if it insists on a unification law with Taiwan, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday.

"China will encounter a certain degree of restriction and difficulty if it tries to place Taiwan policy within a legal framework. It would lose a great deal of flexibility," said council Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) at a press conference.

Chiu's was responding to comments by Wang Zaixi (王在希), vice minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, who said on Thursday that Beijing was "seriously considering creating a unification law" at a cross-strait forum in Hangzhou.

"If China must produce such a law, it has to take into account the international community's expectations that cross-strait problems can be solved by peaceful means," Chiu said.

Beijing would face unexpected difficulties if it implemented the unification law, Chiu added.

Wang said that China had not set a 20-year timetable to unify Taiwan.

However, he warned that Bei-jing would not rule out war if President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) pursued his plan to adopt a new constitution by 2008.

"New tensions may arise and even a serious crisis in the cross-strait situation if Chen obstinately pursues his timetable," Wang said in a front-page interview with the China Daily published yesterday.

"We cannot completely rule out the possibility [of a military conflict] though it is not at all what we hope for," Wang said.

Wang added that the cross-strait political stalemate would continue during Chen's second term unless he accepted the "one China" principle.

"It would be hard for both sides to break the present political stalemate in the short term," he said.

"There will be no way for us to break the ice in political ties in the coming four years unless Chen returns to the one-China principle. What we can do is just work hard to prevent bilateral relations from deteriorating," he said.

Wang said that Taiwan's security depended on how Chen deals with the "one China" principle rather than whether he bought more aircraft and missiles from the US.

Chiu said that the council was monitoring Beijing's media, psychological and legal campaigns to bring about unification. A unification law would be part of the legal campaign, he added.

Chen, who has said on numerous occasions that constitutional reform would focus on the structure of government, said during a trip to the south of the nation on Thursday that China was attempting to lay a legal foundation for it to use force against the nation.

"Taiwan's status is defined as a `special administrative region' in Beijing's draft of the unification law. Is it right for Beijing to do this?" he asked.

"I am very concerned about the unification law ... Can our 23 million people remain unwary of this situation?" he asked.

Chen added that nearly 500,000 Hong Kong residents had taken to the street to protest against Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, an anti-subversion law, on July 1, 2003.

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