The government does not currently plan to respond to Beijing's anti-secession bill with any legal countermeasures, but warned that China should "pull back before it is too late," the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.
Council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) yesterday clarified remarks that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) made Wednesday indicating that "the people of Taiwan might be forced" to counter with an "anti-annexation" law or with a referendum in May. Chen made the remarks during an interview with Japan's Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.
"Taiwan is a democracy, and people's opinions are bound to be different," Chiu said, explaining that Chen's remarks had merely highlighted concerns regarding the public reaction that the anti-secession bill is likely to trigger. "This sort of law [the anti-secession bill] could lead to cross-strait conflict and destabilize the East Asian region as well. We're just worried about what will happen when different opinions come about because of this law -- the government will have to handle the matter carefully."
China's anti-secession bill is slated to be reviewed and most likely passed by the National People's Congress in March. While the text of the bill has yet to be made public, it is believed to target moves towards formal independence in Taiwan.
"This is a law that will seriously change the status quo," Chiu said. "Of course the president is worried that the law will incite some sort of reaction in Taiwan and result in the enactment of counter measures."
However, Chiu clarified that the government had no plans yet to challenge Beijing's anti-secession bill with its own legal action.
"Currently, we do not have plans to enact any countermeasures, we just want China to pull back before it is too late," Chiu said. "This is a serious reminder to China to deal with the matter cautiously ... and to avoid unnecessarily instigating tension."
While the MAC has not taken moves at home to enact any countermeasures against China's anti-secession bill, it has moved to persuade the international community to oppose the bill. Chiu said yesterday that the Council had assigned officials to both the US and Japan to explain Taiwan's opposition to the bill.
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michel Kau (高英茂) recently visited Finland, Norway, the Czech Republic and Germany to lobby for support on the matter. Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) is currently in Washington attending the US presidential inaugural festivities and is slated to meet with US officials and academics to discuss the proposed law. Lo Fu-chen (羅福全), president of the ministry's Association of East Asian Relations and a former representative to Tokyo, is heading the delegation to Japan.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), meanwhile criticized Chen's comments to the Japanese media.
In a statement released yesterday by the KMT, party spokesman Chang Jung-kung (
Should Chen actually dare to propose a retaliatory law, meaning that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are preparing for a political confrontation, the danger of war will be high this year, Chang said. He added that a referendum against the anti-secession law, if it passed, would remove all ambiguity in cross-strait relations.