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Taiwan businessmen in China critical of Chen

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Feb 26 (Reuters) Taiwan businessmen working in China have criticised Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian for plans to scrap a council advising on eventual unification with the mainland.

China and Taiwan have been political foes since 1949 when the Nationalists lost the Chinese civil war to the Communists and fled to Taiwan, an island China claims as its own and has vowed to attack if it formally declares statehood.

But trade, investment and tourism have blossomed, with Taiwan investors pouring up to 100 billion dollars into China since detente began in the late 1980s.

Chen, seeking to shake off Beijing's claim of sovereignty, announced last month that he would abolish the National Unification Council and guidelines on unification, introduced by the Nationalist government in 1990.

''At present, the mainland tries its utmost to protect the rights and interests of Taiwan businessmen and to maintain the peace across the Taiwan straits,'' Xie Kunzhong, president of the Association of Taiwan-Funded Enterprises in Beijing, told a news conference today, according to Hong Kong's Ta Kung Pao newspaper.

''But the supreme leader of the Taiwan administration tries all means to make troubles for Taiwan businessmen.'' China's Taiwan Affairs Office today said Chen had made his move at a time of peace and stability.

''Since 2005, thanks to the common efforts of compatriots of both sides of the Taiwan Strait, relations have emerged with a good momentum of peace, stability and development, making it more difficult for the line of 'Taiwan independence' pursued by Chen Shui-bian,'' an official said in a statement.

''In this situation, Chen Shui-bian not only refuses to mend himself, but puts the peace across the strait and interests of Taiwan people at stake.'' Chen Guoyuan, secretary general of the businessmen's association, said the wishes of Taiwan businessmen were very simple.

''We require only the rights of existence and development, and we don't want Taiwan to set any grey future for us.'' REUTERS SB BS1326

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