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Chinese PM sends mixed message to Taiwan

By EDWARD LANFRANCO

BEIJING, March 14 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said China was "prepared for all eventualities" when it came to countering moves by Taiwanese authorities towards declaring independence for the island.

Wen made the statement at his annual press conference following the final session of the National People's Congress Tuesday morning in Beijing. The premier's comments on Taiwan were a combination of tough talk and hopes for renewed dialogue.

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While the agenda for this year's NPC focused mainly on legislation to tackle mounting mainland issues including rural reform, expanding health and education services, worker safety, environmental degradation and increasing efficient resource use, the question of Taiwan was not forgotten.

Analysts see the Feb. 27 decision by Taiwan's democratically-elected president, Chen Shui-bian, to stop operations of the National Unification Council as heightening tensions in already complex cross-straits relations.

Chen is also pushing for constitutional reforms through a referendum, an act the mainland sees as tantamount to a formal declaration of independence by the island it considers a breakaway province dating back to the civil war that ended in 1949.

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When asked if Chen's recent steps had crossed over the line concerning China's policy toward Taiwan and if his government was still ready to have contact with the island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Wen was more than suggestive.

He began his response by quoting an old Chinese adage: "A just cause finds much support while an unjust one doesn't." In his remarks, the Chinese premier never directly mentioned Chen by name, instead referring to "the leader of the Taiwan authorities."

The first instance was Wen's accusation that "the leader of the Taiwan authorities tried to block the three direct links across the Taiwan Strait and has taken restrictive and contractive measures against the development of economic ties and trade across the straits.

"This does no good for the economic development of Taiwan; moreover it also hurts the interests of its people," he added.

Wen then slammed Chen, calling him a trouble maker who was deflecting attention from the island's problems as well as creating internal dissent, and creating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

"The leader of the Taiwan authorities, forgetting his own roots, has attempted to cut off the blood ties of the Chinese nation and the ties of kinship between compatriots on both sides of the straits," Wen continued.

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The premier said: "Such acts not only run counter to the general trends of peace, stability and seeking mutual beneficial win-win results across the Taiwan Straits, but also go against the general aspiration of the entire Chinese people, Taiwan compatriots included.

"At the end of the day, the leader of the Taiwan authorities will loose all popular support for his unjust course," Wen asserted.

Turning to Chen's moves regarding the National Unification Council, Wen said "he brazenly abrogated the One China principle and seriously undermined peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits.

"His moves are extremely adventurous, dangerous, and deceptive," he added.

The premier said China needed "to stay alert against the fact that (the DPP) are now intensifying their efforts to pursue secessionist activities aimed at so-called Taiwan independence."

Wen claimed the DPP was "going all out" in the pursuit of full independence through the constitutional referendum.

"We are now closely following the ongoing developments and are fully prepared for all eventualities," Wen warned.

After stating the PRC government's One China principle -- that there is one China in the world which is on both sides of the straits -- he issued a second warning that "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division."

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The premier then moderated his tone, stating: "On the basis of the one China principle, we maintain that the two sides across the Taiwan straits need to have consultations and negotiations. They will be conducted completely on an equal footing. There's no such issue as one side swallowing up the other."

Wen closed by making the mainland's best offer thus far for talks with the DPP.

"No matter what party affiliations someone has, no matter who they are, no matter what they said or did in the past, as long as they are committed to the One China principle, we are ready to have dialogue and negotiations with them, even including those people from the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan," Wen said.

The premier added: "As long as that party is willing to give up its platform of so-called Taiwan independence, we are ready and willing to make positive responses to such a move and we're willing to have contact and consultations with them.

"We will never give up our efforts for peaceful reunification," Wen said, before stressing that China "will by no means allow Taiwan to be separated from the motherland."

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