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2004-04-22 16:50:59

    Taipei, April 22 (CNA) The legislative caucus of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) urged President Chen Shui-bian Thursday to heed the latest U.S. warning against Taiwan pursuing de jure independence.

    KMT legislative whip Liao Feng-teh made the call after James Kelly, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said at a hearing of the House International Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. Wednesday that President Chen should exercise "responsible, democratic and restrained leadership" and take Beijing's military threat seriously.

    Kelly pointed out in his testimony that pursuing formal Taiwan independence carries "the potential for a response from [China] -- a dangerous, objectionable and foolish response -- that could destroy much of what Taiwan has built and crush its hopes for the future."

    Liao said Kelly's testimony indicates that even though President Chen has repeatedly denied that he's pursuing formal independence or seeking to change Taiwan's political status quo, the international community has a different perception of his words.

    In his view, Liao said Taiwan's current crisis lies in inconsistency between PresidentChen's words and deeds.

    As Taiwan's largest opposition party, Liao said, the KMT hopes that President Chen can refrain from playing "word games" and can instead seriously consider Taiwan's security in formulating his work agenda and policy initiatives.

    Noting that actions speak louder than words, Liao said President Chen should honestly speak his mind and fulfill his duty of safeguarding Taiwan's security and promoting its prosperity.

    Liao further said President Chen should take concrete steps to defuse international concerns about his future policies, particularly his plan to write a new constitution for Taiwan.

    Since his re-election on March 20, President Chen has reiterated his plan to push for a new constitution by 2006. Chen says Taiwan needs a new constitution to resolve legislative gridlock and make its political system more efficient, but Beijing views it as a step toward independence -- a move that could provoke an attack from Beijing.

    In his Wednesday testimony, Kelly also said Washington doesn't agree with a military approach because it would be "counterproductive to China's stated intent to seek a peaceful outcome" over the Taiwan issue.

(By Sofia Wu)


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