TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) -- Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian scrapped on Monday a body on unification with China and 15-year-old symbolic guidelines on eventual unification, a move that has riled Beijing and alarmed Washington.
While the move was almost certain to complicate reunion and fuel tensions, Chen said it did not mean Taiwan would push for formal independence.
China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own, has warned the move would "certainly spark a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait and sabotage peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region."
Chen, keen to shake off Beijing's claim of sovereignty over the self-ruled island, said last week the National Unification Council and the 15-year-old guidelines on unification were "absurd products of an absurd era" and should be scrapped.
So, Chen has chosen to stick his thumb in Beijing's eye. Now they have an excuse to do something. The mind reels at the possibilities. Meanwhile the international media still can't get anything right:
Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 and considers the mainland as China's sole legitimate government -- through the "one-China" policy -- but it is also obliged by law to help Taiwan defend itself.
Hello! The US isn't obliged by law, but by politics. In fact, I'll bet money that at some point in this evolving crisis a US spokesman will quietly point this out.
The council, set up in 1990 under the previous Nationalist administration, has been dormant since Chen took office in 2000. But it is highly symbolic because it was established to reassure China that the island would not go its own way.
Chen, frustrated with China's refusal to deal with him, appears to be breaking 2000 inaugural vows not to push for formal independence or dissolve the council and the guidelines.
Chen's not breaking any vows, but at least the article acknowledges that it is China, not Taiwan, that has the problem here. Jerome Keating reviews the NUC with a good article up on his website:
Some called it a bombshell but it was only the bursting of a bubble. Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has recently caused quite a stir among the biased and uninformed by proposing to abolish the country's ineffective National Unification Council (NUC). The continued flap over the NUC and its guidelines highlights that most people know nothing about this outdated and ineffective organization, how the guidelines themselves contradict reality, and how the council comes from an era when the Kuomintang (KMT) wished to substitute its personal agenda for that of the people of Taiwan.And so: all this effort expended, and for what? We got rid of a US$32 budget item, and managed to piss off the two most powerful nations in the world. What do have for it? Anything concrete? Maybe for an encore, Chen can personally call the heads of the Hong Kong triads and tell them their wives are ugly and their children are stupid too.
Formed back in 1990 (six years before Taiwan's people were allowed to directly elect their President) the NUC represents a last ditch effort by the KMT to explain and justify its continued forty plus years of martial law and one-party state rule i.e. their alleged purpose all along was democracy. The council adopted the present guidelines at its third meeting on February 23, 1991.
First examine this; the Pan-blue dominated Legislature in typical hypocritical fashion cries at how President Chen does not have the best interests of the people in mind. That same Pan-blue Legislature had just cut the annual budget of the NUC to a mere US thirty-two dollars-barely enough to pay to install a phone or get fax paper for less than a month. This is more than a slap in the face to the NUC, it confirms that even the Pan-blues consider the NUC useless but it further insults the people of Taiwan.
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