Thu, Dec 16, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet dismisses China's criticism of Chen

HOSTILITY In its first official response to last Saturday's legislative elections, Beijing officials said the poll result was proof that all Taiwan's people want peace with China

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan yesterday dismissed China's claim that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was a threat to Asian stability, saying that China is the biggest threat in the region and that there is no chance the government will adhere to a "one country, two systems" model.

"China has been ambitious in expanding its military might in the region and that has been the cause of much concern from [its] neighbors," Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

He said that China has raked up a double-digit increase to its military spending every year since 1995 and has deployed over 500 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan, which seriously threatens security across the Taiwan Strait.

To prove his point, Chen Chi-mai said that China's military expenses were estimated to be between US$50 billion and US$70 billion annually, ranking it third-highest in defense spending after the US and Russia.

Chen Chi-mai made the remarks in response to the statement by Li Weiyi (李維一), a spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO).

The Chinese government also yesterday made its first official response to last Saturday's legislative elections. At a TAO press conference, Li denounced Chen Shui-bian's moves toward Taiwan's independence as exacerbating tensions with China. Li also said the president was a dangerous politician who considers China an enemy and puts the safety and livelihood of Taiwan's people at risk.

"The independence activities by the Chen administration are the main source of chaos in the Asia-Pacific and have worsened cross-strait tensions," he said.

Li also claimed that Saturday's election results proved that most Taiwanese favored peace with China and that they were disillusioned with the separatist activities of Chen Shui-bian.

Dismissing Li's criticism, Chen Chi-mai yesterday called on Bei-jing to not misinterpret the result of Saturday's polls because it was not conducive to cross-strait relations.

"There are always winners and losers in an election, but no matter what the result is, it's how democracy operates," he said.

"The election not only re-affirms the nation's sovereignty but also proves once again that there is no market for the `one country, two systems' model," he said.

Chen Chi-mai also said that the pledges made by President Chen during his inauguration speech and National Day address remained unchanged.

They include the "four noes" and plans for reforming the Constitution.

He also urged the Chinese leadership to resume negotiations on the opening of direct transportation links and charter flights for the Lunar New Year, as they are purely economic issues and not political.

Responding to Li's invitation to Taiwanese individuals and politicians to visit China, Chen Chi-mai called on Beijing to stop instituting political barriers to hamper cross-strait negotiations. He said the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong could be the basis to return to the negotiating table for a new round of cross-strait talks.

Li said the Chinese government welcomes any Taiwanese individual or group, including the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP), to visit China and exchange views on such issues as how to better develop cross-strait relations and facilitate peaceful unification.

Quoting remarks made by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) at the KMT's Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday, KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said Lien presently has no plans to visit China.

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