Tue, Nov 30, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Don't bother trying to talk to China, aide to Chen says

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) should give up trying to get China to talk peace and focus instead on rewriting the constitution to prepare Taiwan to declare statehood, one of his senior advisers said yesterday.

Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), a wealthy pro-independence diehard who helped finance Chen's campaigns, said the president had made a "big mistake" in calling for peace talks with Beijing and should now use his second, and final, four-year term to change the constitution as his legacy to the self-ruled, democratic country.

"Taiwan is taking the path towards independence and this cannot be stopped," Koo, 78, said in an interview.

Koo reckons Beijing is bluffing with its military threats and would be forced to talk if Taiwan pushes ahead towards independence.

"They are only making verbal threats," he said.

Koo's pro-independence views have made him a maverick in his own family -- it is one of Taiwan's wealthiest and has close links to the former Nationalist Party.

His brother, Koo Chen-fu, held the highest-level Taiwan-China talks in Singapore in 1993.

"As Taiwan moves towards independence, tensions between the two sides will inevitably escalate. At that time, China will have to choose between going to war and talking to us. They are not stupid," Koo said.

China would not risk destroying an economy it has worked so hard to build to wage a war that could provoke international intervention, he added.

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