China yesterday firmly rejected Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's defence of his "absurd theory" that "each side is a country," asserting that it is only another way of trying to say that "Taiwan is an independent sovereign state," with the same ultimate aim of trying to split China.
A top leader of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) said that Chen's statement is just further preaching for his separatist "Taiwan Independence" gambit.
In his speech to the pro-independence World Federation of Taiwanese Association in Tokyo via teleconferencing on August 3, Chen said that "each side (of the Taiwan Straits) is a country" and called for a referendum to decide Taiwan's future.
His remarks have drawn explosive responses.
On Tuesday, Chen sought to defuse the speech made over the weekend. Officials from Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party said that Chen's remarks had been "oversimplified" and that he would not break his promise not to change the status quo.
Although Chen said in his inauguration address that he would not seek Taiwan independence, change the name of Taiwan, write the theory of two countries into the constitution nor hold a referendum on independence for the island, his proposals are exactly the same as the "two states" statement concocted by his predecessor Lee Teng-hui, said the official who asked to remain anonymous.
Beijing-based leading experts on Taiwan studies also warned that Chen's "each side is a country" is more "sinister" and "undisguised" than the "two states" theory.
Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Chen's insisting on "Taiwan independence" will create tensions and sabotage peace across the Straits and damage stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region.
Su Ge, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, warned Chen not to misjudge the situation and underestimate the determination of the Chinese Government and people to bring about reunification.
Local polls by cable network ETTV in Taiwan showed Chen's approval rate sank to a record low of 46 percent after his speech.
In Beijing, an Internet-based survey by Xinhua showed 88 percent of respondents felt that Beijing should throw out any illusions they had about Chen Shui-bian after his weekend speech.
The ARATS leader criticized Chen for not accepting the one-China principle and still trying to deny, distort and evade the 1992 consensus reached by the ARATS and its Taiwan counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation, which will make it difficult for the two sides to resume negotiations.
The ARATS leader indicated that Chen's comments exposed his "true pro-independence stand."
(China Daily August 8, 2002)