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Experts rebuke Chen Shui-bian's peace talk as 'hoax'

February 04, 2004

Leading mainland experts on Taiwan studies yesterday criticized Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's latest peace overtures as "nothing new'' and "a hoax aimed at wooing votes.''

Chen outlined the so-called "peace and stability framework'' that he hopes to establish across the Straits at a news conference Tuesday.

Under the framework, he proposed to set up a demilitarized zone, push exchanges of special envoys and establish liaison offices between Taipei and Beijing.

The Taiwan leader's new proposals came weeks after he called for a "holy war'' against the mainland.

"All of Chen's proposals are full of hackneyed and stereotyped expressions, but lack the least amount of sincerity,'' said Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Li said Chen has based his proposals on a wrong precondition that will never be acceptable to the Chinese mainland.

The leader has attempted to stake his claim of "one country on each side (of the Straits)'' into his proposals, according to the researcher.

On August 3, 2002, Chen inflamed new tensions in cross-Straits relations by preaching that "each side (of the Taiwan Straits) is a country.''

Beijing, however, has stood firm on the one-China principle that both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.

Li stressed that Chen's proposals will amount to nothing if he still refuses to embrace the one-China principle and continues his push for Taiwan independence.

"Can you expect Beijing to talk about how to split Taiwan from China with the Taiwan authorities?'' he asked.

Professor Xu Bodong, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies with the Beijing Union University, described Chen's moves as an attempt to woo votes in the upcoming "presidential'' elections on March 20.

Facing intense criticism over his plans to hold a "defensive referendum'' alongside the polls, Chen had to play word games to divert public attention, he said.

Along with his recent provocative actions towards Beijing, Xu added, Chen was now trying hard to create a false impression that he wants to improve relations with the mainland.

"Chen's new overture is nothing but an election gambit aimed at covering up his pro-independence conspiracy and winning votes in the elections,'' said Xu.

"He is apparently using these overtures to cheat the Taiwanese public and the international community, so as to boost his chances of re-election.''

Chen's scheme to hold the "defensive referendum'' is widely believed to be a step towards paving the way for an independence plebiscite.

Beijing condemned it as "one-sided provocation'' to peace and stability in bilateral ties.

Even some foreign governments have questioned the plan.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Friday that the wording of the referendum raised questions about Taiwan's motive.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhang Qiyue said Armitage's statement reiterated the recent US stance on the Taiwan issue including adhering to the one-China policy, abiding by the three Sino-US joint communiques, opposing Taiwan independence and any word or activity of the Taiwan authority to change the status quo of Taiwan.

When asked for comment on Chen's latest peace proposals, the US State Department reportedly said that Washington will do its utmost to make sure that there is no conflict.

"We want to reiterate that the United States opposes any unilateral action that might change the status quo in the cross-Strait area,'' State Department spokesman Lou Fintor was quoted as saying by Reuters.

French President Jacques Chirac also described Chen's referendum move as a "grave error'' and said Chen's initiative was dangerous for the whole world.

Source: China Daily 

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