Mar 17, 2005

Taiwan: President Asks 1 Million to Protest Law

Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, said that China's passage of an invasive antisecession law would further alienate Taiwan from mainland China, and told his people to join a massive protest

Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-bian, said Wednesday that China's passage of what he called an invasive antisecession law would further alienate Taiwan from mainland China, and told his people to join a massive protest.

Chen, in his first public statement about the Chinese legislation - which stipulates that China would resort to "nonpeaceful" means against Taiwan if the democratic, self-governed island formally declared independence - defended the sovereignty of Taiwan, saying that China had no right to decide its political future.

"After the international community voiced almost unanimous opposition and repeatedly expressed serious concerns," Chen said, China still "unilaterally passed this invasive law."

"Any undemocratic and nonpeaceful means, regardless of what the excuses are, can't be tolerated in the international community and will leave cross-Strait relations further divided and drive the people on both sides further apart," Chen said.

The passage of the new legislation in China's National People's Congress earlier this week caused angry protests in Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

The speaker of Taiwan's Parliament, Wang Jin-pyng, warned against adopting retaliatory legislation, saying it would unnecessarily increase tensions.

"The passage of the antisecession law has immediately raised tension across the Strait and the situation makes people here very worried," said Wang, a leader in the main opposition Nationalist Party, which favors eventual unification with a democratic China and is more conciliatory toward the mainland.

An anti-annexation bill proposed by a small hard-line pro-independence party was waiting to be reviewed by a procedural subcommittee; but a lack of consensus was likely to delay any progress, at least for now, Wang said.

Chen's Democratic Progressive Party has not said whether it would support such legislation.

China sought to allay fears about its antisecession legislation on Tuesday, saying there was no change to its policy toward Taiwan. But Chen said he was unconvinced.

"A nonpeaceful dark cloud is cast over the Taiwan Strait: None of us can afford to be unconcerned," he said.

"One million people will march to the streets to reject this nonpeaceful invasion law," he said. "Only the great Taiwan people can decide the future of Taiwan's freedom, democracy and peace."

Chen's pro-independence party had planned to mobilize a half-million people around the island to join a protest on March 26, but Chen later called for one million.

Analysts viewed the antisecession bill as Beijing's bid to deter Chen from pushing for a formal split from China before his final term ends in 2008.

Source: IHT