03/08/2005, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA - VATICAN
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The anti-secession bill does not serve peace, says Cardinal Shan

The bill that authorises use of force shows that the military is getting stronger in Beijing, says the prelate. Christians on both sides of the strait must work closely for reconciliation.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – Card Paul Shan Kuo-hsi told AsiaNews that "this bill is not appropriate; it does not breach the gap between Taiwanese and Chinese". For the 82-year-old Bishop of Kaohsiung (Taiwan), "both sides of the strait must take steps to reduce tensions".

Beijing's decision to adopt an anti-secession bill that authorises the use of force against Taiwan's attempts to become independence is worrying people on the island. President Chen Shui-bian's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced that it would organise demonstrations of more than 500,000 people to protest the Chinese bill.

According to Cardinal Shan, "most Taiwanese—more than 80 per cent—are absolutely against this bill". "During the Chinese New Year," the prelate noted, "we thought tensions had been reduced. For at least 15 days direct flights between China and Taiwan made travel easier for traders and business people. Many people from the island went to see their relatives on the mainland, and many people from the mainland came to see their relatives on the island".

Even though the government in Beijing claims that the bill is only meant to oppose those groups on the island who want its independence, for cardinal Shan it is a sign that the military are getting stronger.

"In Taiwan, everyone wants calmer and more peaceful relationship with China. But by adopting this bill the mainland is not serving peace. It will show that the government in Beijing is driven by the military. China is so big and there are so many factions in the party and the government".

Answering a question about the bill's impact on relations between the Chinese and the Taiwanese Churches, Cardinal Shan said: "I don't believe the bill will influence our relations. Neither we, nor the Chinese Church are involved in politics. We only want and we are only working for reconciliation and communion".

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