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US Criticizes Chen's Plans for UN Referendum
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A senior US military officer has criticized Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian for statements on the island's "independence," saying they were unhelpful to maintaining peace across the Taiwan Straits.

US Pacific Command Admiral Timothy Keating's remarks on Tuesday reflected Washington's fears over Chen's plan to hold a referendum on Taiwan's entry to the United Nations under the name "Taiwan", which is strongly opposed by Beijing.

Keating told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank that "Chen's rhetoric isn't entirely helpful" and his "statements about Taiwan independence could potentially increase Taiwan Strait tensions."

His remarks coincided with the UN's latest rejection of the Taiwan authorities' application for membership of the world body. It cited a 1971 resolution that insists China is one nation, and recognizes the People's Republic of China as the lawful representative of China in the UN.

The Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council issued a statement on Tuesday, criticizing Chen as a "schemer" and "saboteur" of peace and stability. His "Taiwan independence" activities are doomed to failure, the statement said.

The bid to join the UN was the latest in a series of moves by Chen to separate Taiwan from China as his final term in office winds down before elections early next year.

The US State Department urged Taiwan last month not to hold a referendum over a possible UN bid. The US opposes all initiatives to change Taiwan's status quo unilaterally and a referendum would increase tensions in the Taiwan Straits, said US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

(China Daily July 26, 2007)

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