03/02/2005, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA - EUROPEAN UNION
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Taiwan says EU plans to lift China arms ban is money over principles

Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian accuses EU that its plans to lift the arms ban on mainland China is motivated by trade considerations. Chinese envoy denies Taiwan attack is on the agenda.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian had harsh words for the European Union's proposal to lift the arms ban on mainland China. In a videoconference with MEPs he accused the EU of currying favour with Beijing fearing it might lose the lucrative Chinese market.

"In the future before others criticise Taiwan they should really try to understand what is truly going on," the President said. "They can't just issue strong criticism because they have vested interests in China and . . . have decided to embrace china for personal gains or political gains."

The President warned that "[s]hould the EU decide to lift its arms embargo against China it might lead to a tilt in the military balance in the Taiwan Strait which would pose a clear threat to peace and stability".

Chen noted that China had over 700 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification despite their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Although he did not want to single any one government, he said that the Taiwanese "are saddened to learn that some countries have adopted double standards to the universal values of human rights, democracy, freedom and peace."

He did welcome US and Japanese opposition to the EU plans. "The United States and Japan are right on the Pacific Rim, that's why they that are concerned," he said.

Tensions have risen in recent days because China's People's National Congress (NPC) is set to vote on anti-Taiwan secession bill on March 5. If approved the law would give China the legal basis for an attack on the island should Taiwan proclaim its independence.

Still, Yang Wenchang, Chinese Foreign Ministry's commissioner in Hong Kong, said that the conditions or the will to attack are not there.

For the commissioner, the "problem now is Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian. [He] is creating various problems, trying to make Taiwan into an independent country, so our anti-secession bill is forced by pro-independence forces in Taiwan".

"There's a lot of speculation that, with the NPC passing the anti-secession law China is not ruling out war across the strait," Mr Yang said.

However, he added, "the central government wants a peaceful reunification . . . [A]t the same time, through legislation, we want to tell the people of Taiwan that independence is not a way out. We have already waited 56 years".

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