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End of Taiwan unification body provocative: China

By Staff
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Beijing, Feb 28: China's state media today (Feb 28, 2006) called Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's scrapping of a body on reunification 'provocative' and said the move marked a step toward independence that could endanger peace in the region.

Chen said yesterday the "National Unification Council and 15-year-old symbolic guidelines on eventual unification had ceased to function." He also said that did not mean the self-ruled island would push for formal independence.

"His further escalation of secessionist activities will no doubt stoke tensions and trigger a serious crisis in the Straits," the state-run China Daily said in an editorial.

"Chen's risky and provocative actions also threaten to destroy peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," it said.

The comments echoed a statement by China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office published on Monday that warned that scrapping the body would spark crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

China and Taiwan split at the end of the civil war in 1949 and Beijing has vowed to reclaim the island by any means necessary, making the Strait a dangerous flashpoint in the region.

"Scrapping the council and the guidelines is solely aimed at paving the way for his pursuit of Taiwan's de jure independence through the 'constitutional re-engineering' project," the editorial said, referring to constitutional amendments.

It accused Chen, whose pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took power in 2000 and narrowly won re-election in 2004, of pushing independence as a means of deflecting criticism over what it said were his political and economic failings.

But the editorial also said moves toward independence were 'doomed to failure', with Chinese united in their desire to safeguard China's territorial integrity.

REUTERS

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