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MAC REGRETS BEIJING'S `MISINTERPRETATION' OF PLANNED REFERENDUM

2004-01-19 22:34:41

    Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) expressed regret Monday at what it said was mainland China's misinterpretation of Taiwan's planned referendum.

    MAC Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong made the remarks after mainland China held a seminar to mark the ninth anniversary of the "eight-point peace overture" toward Taiwan by former President Jiang Zemin, during which State Councilor Tang Jiaxian said that the referendum, whether preceded by the term "defensive" or "peace," will only heighten cross-Taiwan Strait tension.

    As long as Taiwan acknowledges Beijing's "one China" principle, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could talk about anything, Tang said. "Tang's words are again a deliberate twisting and misinterpretation, and his attempt to thwart democratic development in Taiwan is evident, " Chen said, adding that the MAC "greatly regrets such remarks."

    Chen said that President Chen Shui-bian clearly explained Friday the two questions to be put to referendum and the MAC does not like to see the mainland make use of every excuse to intervene or obstruct in Taiwan's political development.

    Chen said that the latest mainland seminar was basically just Beijing harping on at the same old tune played at previous seminars to mark the anniversaries of Jiang's overtures over the past few years.

    In addition, he went on, although Beijing continues to espouse its stance of "peaceful unification," this can only be seen as paying lip service to the idea of peace, as it has deployed nearly 500 missiles along its southeastern coast aimed at Taiwan, and has continued to increase military deployment and weapons purchases.

    Chen said that Beijing had better listen to the voice of the Taiwan people, and "sit down to talk in a pragmatic manner, " adding that this is what President Chen refers to in his second referendum question, which asks whether a "peace and stability" framework be set up for cross-strait interaction.

    Chen said that Beijing has continued to attempt to obstruct the democratic development of Taiwan and has "randomly detained" Taiwan businessmen operating on the mainland recently to use as political leverage to pressure Taiwan, which belies Beijing's claim that it "pins its hopes on the Taiwan people."

    Chen said that Beijing should protect the lives and basic human rights of the detained businessmen, accused by Beijing of spying for Taiwan. "It is inhumane, anti-democratic and against the rule of law to randomly detain Taiwan businessmen," Chen said.

    He urged Beijing not to use the men as leverage or hostages lest it trigger resentment among the Taiwan people and seriously affect cross-strait relations.

    Meanwhile, Tsai Huang-lan, whip of the ruling Democratic progressive Party (DPP) in the Legislative Yuan, said that even though the questions in the planned referendum are neutral and moderate, Beijing is linking them to a vote on independence, which he said has tainted the democratic ideas of the Taiwan people. "Beijing is fearful of the referendum because it is afraid of the strengthening of democracy in Taiwan," Tasi said, adding that Beijing is hoping to indirectly intervene in Taiwan's presidential election.

    The opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union, an ally of the DPP, said that the referendum is already a national consensus and that the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party should also throw their support behind it.

    Lee Chia-chin, KMT whip at the Legislative Yuan, said that the planned referendum has caused cross-strait strain and misunderstanding among the international community, and he urged President Chen to "deal cautiously with the situation."

    He also said that the mainland's reaction is to be expected, but urged Beijing to deal with the matter calmly and not attempt to intervene in the March 20 presidential election.

(By Lilian Wu)

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