Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian on Saturday called for a referendum on Taiwan's future and said that "each side is a country". Chen's strong pro-independence remarks have caused great shock and confusion to Taiwan society and have been questioned by experts and people on both sides of the Straits.
Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's strong pro-independence remarks on Saturday have caused great shock and confusion to Taiwan society and have been questioned by experts and people on both sides of the Straits.
During a video conference, Chen told the annual meeting of the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations, a pro-Taiwan independence group, that he backed legislation on a referendum to decide whether the island should declare independence.
Xinhua News Agency quoted an editorial of the Taipei-based China Times as saying that Chen's theory of "one country on each side" (of the Taiwan Straits) is another version of the "state-to-state" relationship theory preached by Chen's predecessor Lee Teng-hui.
Lee raised tensions with the mainland with his 1999 formulation that Taiwan and the mainland should meet on the basis of "special state-to-state" ties.
The editorial said Chen's remarks signaled the gradual collapse of his election promises and triggered uncertainties in the cross-Straits relationship.
When Chen took office in May 2000, he promised not to declare independence or push for an independence referendum.
Shao Zong-hai, a professor of the National Cheng-chi University in Taiwan, expressed his concerns about Chen's definition of Taiwan in an interview with Xinhua, saying that his remarks will seriously affect the development of cross-Straits relations and social stability on the island.
Business communities in Taiwan also worry about the negative effects Chen's remarks will have on the recovery of Taiwan's economy.
Two stock brokers interviewed by Xinhua Sunday in Taipei, identified as Lei Zhong-guang and Chen Zhong-rui, said they were afraid that the stock market would suffer sharp fluctuations.
Lien Chan, chairman of the Kuomintang Party, Chen's major opposition party, said Chen's remarks have moved further towards Taiwan independence.
The move has linked the future and safety of the 23 million Taiwan people with Taiwan's independence, which was compared by Lien to an explosive.
Lien added that Chen's remarks contradicted what he had promised in his inauguration.
Chen promised in May 2000 that so long as the mainland does not use force against Taiwan, he would not announce independence, change the name of "the country" nor include a "state-to-state" theory in its constitution.
James Soong, chairman of Taiwan's opposition People First Party, said theories preached by Chen as well as Lee Teng-hui will bring instability to the Taiwan people. Chen's remarks made people feel worried about Taiwan's future, Soong said.
Press reports in Hong Kong and Macao have strongly rebuked Chen Shui-bian's remarks on "independence," saying Chen is gambling with all Taiwanese's welfare and has put the island in a dangerous situation.
Hong Kong-based newspapers including Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao, and the Hong Kong Commercial Daily, on Sunday published the views of residents highly critical of Chen's remarks, and warned him notto play with fire again.
The Macao Daily noted in its Sunday editorial that the campaignof Chinese worldwide against "Taiwan independence" and for the reunification of the motherland has been growing and become irresistible. Any attempts for "Taiwan independence" are doomed tofailure, the editorial said.
Ma Lik, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), said Chen had broken his promises, which was very dangerous.
Lee Kok Keung, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said Chen's statement that "each side is a country" harbors malicious intent and would further destabilize the Taiwanese society.
Wong Ka Ying, a researcher from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that Chen's remarks, a clear violation of his own promises, would probably have serious consequences.
A survey by the Taipei-based China Times newspaper showed that 53 per cent of those surveyed in Taiwan were worried that Chen's remarks showed he was leaning towards independence, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong commentator Cao Jingxing said Chen lost his honesty when he turned his back on his election promises. He said Chen's remarks pushed relations between the two sides to its worst in 20 years.