With former American deputy secretary of state Richard Amitage planning to visit the island of Taiwan soon, Republic of China President Chen Shui—bian has turned up tension across the Taiwan Strait by deciding to scrap a politically symbolic reunification body National Unification Council (NUC). The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong reports:
Mr Chen will preside over a National Security Council meeting this afternoon in which a decision will be made on what to do with the reunification body that has sat idle since he assumed office in 2000.
Mr Chen surprised the US and the mainland last month by saying it was time to consider abolishing the reunification council, which he later said deprived Taiwanese of their choice to decide the island's future.
Washington, concerned the scrapping would further escalate cross—strait tensions, has reportedly sent two officials from the White House and State Department to try to dissuade Mr Chen from abolishing the body, set up in 1991 by the former Kuomintang government to leave open the possibility of cross—strait unification and to prevent the mainland from using Taiwan's refusal to reunite as an excuse for war.
The US was also displeased to learn of the plan as it constituted a breach of trust by Mr Chen, who has time and again said he will stand by his pledges of not declaring Taiwanese independence, changing the island's title and constitution or scrap the reunification council.
Beijing has also expressed concern over the plan, saying it flashes a dangerous signal of Taiwanese independence.
To read more, go to the SCMP website: ($link)
Brian J. Schwarz 3 01 06