Taiwan May Call Referendum to Counter Chinese Law
Beijing, which claims self-ruled democratic Taiwan as a renegade province, sees any referendum on the sensitive issue of Taiwan-China ties as a step towards independence for the island that could lead to war.
China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, is set to review an anti-secession law in March that Taiwan officials say will give Beijing a legal basis for an attack.
The anti-secession law would alienate Taiwan’s 23 million people, Chen said in an interview with Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun daily on Wednesday.
“I don’t know how they could benefit from the anti-succession law if it forces Taiwan people to take to the streets and even push for an anti-annexation law, or make the (Taiwan) government call a counter-referendum on May 26,” Chen said in a transcript of the interview issued by his office.
A poll by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs office in December found nearly three quarters of respondents would oppose such a law against secession as a means to force the island to accept reunification.
The survey found 83 percent of people disagreed with China using the law to form a legal basis to attack Taiwan.
“The Taiwan government and myself are not willing to see such a development and I hope the Beijing authority thinks about it carefully,” Chen said.
Taiwan is scheduled to hold elections for its National Assembly, which approves constitutional reforms, on May 26.
The pro-independence Chen infuriated Beijing last year when he called a referendum alongside the March presidential election on whether Taiwan should boost its defences against China’s growing military might. That referendum failed.
Many security analysts see the Taiwan Strait as the most dangerous flashpoint in Asia, with tensions simmering since Chen’s re-election and China’s plans for the anti-secession bill.
Beijing says the bill is aimed at peaceful reunification.
Despite the uneasy political ties, business booms across the narrow strait and many leading Taiwan firms have moved their factories to the mainland to benefit from lower costs.
Last week, Taiwan and China struck a landmark deal to allow non-stop charter flights during the Lunar New Year holidays and these will serve the many Taiwan businesspeople working in China and who want to return home for the celebrations.
Taiwan has banned direct flights with China since the Nationalists escaped to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists on the mainland.
Source: Khaleej Times