China has branded Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian a "troublemaker and saboteur" for a speech hinting at formalising Taiwan's independence.Yes, Chen is a troublemaker. So are the millions who participated in the thousands of protests against the government in China last year. So are bloggers like Michael Anti. So is Lu Banglie. So are the villagers of Taishi. So is everyone who wants peace and freedom in the world.
Mr Chen suggested last month that it might be time to consider scrapping Taiwan's guidelines on unification.
In China's first official response, a spokesman said such a move would break a promise made by Mr Chen in 2000.
China sees Taiwan as its territory, threatening to use force if the island moves towards formal independence.
Mr Chen suggested late last month that the time had come to seriously consider scrapping the National Unification Council and its National Unification Guidelines, in a speech which created diplomatic and political shockwaves.
The Council was set up in 1990 as an attempt to convince the Chinese authorities that Taiwan was committed to reunification, and it helped kick-start landmark talks between the two sides in the early 1990s.
The Beeb did not report that Chen's promises were conditional upon China's rejection of force in its attempt to annex Taiwan. As I noted in a long post on this announcement earlier this week, Maddog makes a very solid point about Chen's "breaking promises":
Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, the abolition of the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines will not be an issue.
The political wisdom of Chen's announcement aside, coming as it does in the midst of the US attempt to woo China for its upcoming Iran war (World Nut Daily offers some right-wing disgust with Bush's sellout of the island), President Chen is not backtracking on a promise here, since his original declaration had clear conditions that China has failed to comply with: it had to renounce its intention to kill and maim Taiwanese in order to seize the last remaining prize from the Great Game of the 19th century.
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