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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 11:04 GMT
Media mixed on Taiwan bill
A woman waves the Republic of China flag out of her apartment window
Taiwan's new referendum - restricting or liberating?

Reaction to the passing in Taiwan of a bill allowing the president to call a referendum on independence - but only if the country is attacked - is mixed in the region's media.

In mainland China there is disapproval, but also some satisfaction that it was the "watered down" version which was voted through.

In Taiwan some papers proclaim a victory for democracy, while others reflect on the controversy between the conservative and reformist camps. The conservatives favour the more moderate wording, while the reformists object to what they call a restricted "birdcage referendum".

Mainland China

Some articles of the bill still leave room for the pro-independence forces in Taiwan to conduct separatist activities and will be the hidden trouble hindering the reunification of the Chinese nation.

Xinhua - Beijing (official English-language news agency)

For (Taiwanese President) Chen Shui-bian's team, this is a great defeat.

Huanqiu Shibao - Beijing

This extremely irresponsible move, which goes against the fundamental interests of Taiwanese people, will be finally cast aside by the public. (Wang Kebin, secretary-general, China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification)

China Daily - Beijing

Today, Chen Shui-bian and his like are openly distorting history and recklessly proceeding with their 'Taiwan independence' activities. History will certainly censure his conduct of playing with fire in disregarding historical facts... Chinese people, including the people of Taiwan, will absolutely not tolerate this. (Yu Pei, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of History)

Guangming Ribao - Beijing


China equates changing the national flag, name and territory through national referendums with 'Taiwan independence'... Because China realises that the passage of a referendum law is inevitable, it had to attempt to delineate its so-called 'line'. This attempt was of course laughable, because self-determination is a universally accepted human right, and China has no right to interfere with the rights of Taiwanese people.

Taipei Times - Taiwan (in English)

We don't want a 'birdcage referendum'!

Liberty Times - Taiwan

The war of words between the blue (conservative) and green (reformist) camps is not over, so there's no harm in welcoming this moment of victory for Taiwan democracy!

China Times - Taiwan

As for the green camp perhaps being angry that the 'Taiwan independence referendum' did not succeed, the blue camp also could not avoid some people being angry because the 'anti-Taiwan independence referendum' didn't succeed either.

United Daily News - Taiwan

Hong Kong

Had Taiwan passed the unlimited version of the referendum law, its citizens would not have found themselves awash in democracy, freedom and human rights. Instead, such an act would have opened a Pandora's box, letting loose crises, disasters and war.

China Daily - Hong Kong edition

Dangerous move towards 'Taiwan independence'

Ta Kung Pao - Hong Kong (Beijing-backed)

The setback suffered by the Chen Shui-bian authorities in promoting a Taiwan independence referendum on the creation of a constitution shows that Taiwan independence is unpopular!... However, the draft referendum law itself is already a dangerous signal... Therefore, how to prevent Taiwan independence forces from taking advantage of the referendum law is still an issue that needs to be taken seriously.

Wen Wei Po - Hong Kong (Beijing-backed)

Although such a bill may not necessarily completely eliminate the tense atmosphere between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, it can at least prevent the crisis from further escalating, and it can at least prevent the hostility between both sides from further escalating. We hope that the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can continue to maintain restraint and rationality.

Apple Daily - Hong Kong

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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