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Protest Threatens Cross-Straits Relations

Cross-straits relations may worsen if secessionist forces in Taiwan challenge the newly passed Anti-Secession Law, top mainland researchers warned on Thursday.

They cautioned the Taiwan leadership against the provocative remarks and actions that are anticipated at this weekend's planned Anti-Secession Law protest on the island.

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, from the pro-secession Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), confirmed yesterday that he and his family will be taking part in Saturday's march.

Chen called for 1 million people to join the DPP-organized protest.

Wang Baofu, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University of the People's Liberation Army, said he is concerned that secessionist forces are taking advantage of the march to fan hatred and anti-mainland sentiment among the Taiwan public.

"It cannot be ruled out that a handful of diehard secessionists may take desperate moves to challenge the Anti-Secession Law," he said at a meeting of the Cross-straits Relations Research Center in Beijing. "They may distort the law to incite confrontation across the Taiwan Straits and poison bilateral ties."

The National People's Congress, China's top legislature, passed the 10-article Anti-Secession Law on March 14 to check the intensification of secessionist activities on the island.

While promoting peaceful reunification of Taiwan and the mainland, the law stipulates that non-peaceful means and other necessary measures would be employed as a last resort should all efforts for peaceful national reunification fail.

Wang noted that the new legislation has effectively reduced maneuvering room for secessionists and may lead to a backlash from them.

Chen has described the Anti-Secession Law as "a law of aggression," while the DPP and its ally the Taiwan Solidarity Union have portrayed the bill as "a war mobilization order" that authorizes an attack against the island at any time.

Liu Guoshen, president of the Taiwan Research Academy at Xiamen University, said the demonization of the Anti-Secession Law reflects the secessionists' fear of the legislation.

"They are apparently attempting to deceive and mislead the public by cooking up an immediate military threat from the law," he said. "In fact, secessionist forces on the island know they themselves and their secessionist activities are the only target of the Anti-Secession Law."

Given Taipei's responses, Liu predicted a short-term worsening and even the danger of recession in cross-straits ties.

Possible retaliatory policies from the Taiwan authorities following Saturday's rally could aggravate the situation. The DPP has threatened to suspend economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and the mainland in the wake of the passage of the Anti-Secession Law.

(China Daily March 25, 2005)

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