China has warned Taiwan that its decision to scrap a council on reunification with the mainland could bring disaster.
The BBC News website spoke to people across Taiwan about the latest war of words and their feelings about independence from China.
CHIAO YUAN-MING, 24, CIVIL SERVANT, CHIAYI COUNTY
There are a lot of bread and butter issues our president could be addressing. We have economic and social problems.
Chiao Yuan-ming says Taiwan has left itself no room to manoeuvre
But he chose the controversial path of abolishing the National Unification Council.
One can be a visionary and one can be bold, but Taiwan is a small island and it has to negotiate and manoeuvre around big powers like China and the USA. I think we are forcing the issue unnecessarily.
Taiwan will be seen as a trouble-maker and I fear that the more we wiggle, the tighter the noose will get and the less room for diplomatic manoeuvre.
Rash decisions can have unforeseen consequences - so I do worry about what the future could hold.
My father was born in Nanjing in China before the civil war. Our family moved to Taiwan in 1949. My parents lived in Taiwan for most of their lives and they contributed to the island. But even though few of my family have been back to the mainland, they see themselves as Chinese.
It's the cultural ties that matter. It's about language and the collective memories of living in that place across the straits. But that doesn't mean we support immediate reunification with a one-party government.
LIN CHIA-JU, 36,HOUSEWIFE, TAIPEI
I want independence from China. I was born in Taiwan and I grew up here. We have our own culture, we are a separate country.
Lin Chia-ju wants Taiwan to be independent from China
I'm a fourth-generation Taiwanese. My great-grandfather came here in the late 19th century and we have been settled here since then.
So I approve of Chen Shui-bian's actions. He has found a way to give Taiwanese the opportunity to express their true feelings about independence.
We have freedom of expression and the big message is that we want to be independent.
I hate these disputes with China. When I was very young, I remember China constantly threatening war. It was as if we were to be punished for our desire to be independent.
My children will learn Taiwanese: it is a different language to Chinese. And I want my children to learn about our distinctive culture just the way my father and my mother taught me about it.
HSU CHIH-CHIEN, 47, BUSINESS EXECUTIVE, TAIPEI
Taiwan is divided. We are two camps: pro-unification and pro-independence.
CC Hsu is in favour of eventual reconciliation with China
The pro-unification camp believes that Taiwan is in the midst of an unfinished civil war left over from 1949. We lost the war to the Communists but we must reunite. The pro-independence camp would like to create a new country that has no connection with China now or in the future.
That's where the problem lies.
China was happy with the status quo: one Chinese nation, temporarily separated. The National Unification Council was a symbol that sometime in the future we will reconcile.
Doing away with it is like the first steps towards filing for divorce. I don't want that.
Pro-independence activists love to say that Taiwan has a distinct culture and language. That's not true. The dialect spoken here is the same as that spoken in Fujian province in south-eastern China.
The truth is that we need mainland China. There are 1.5m Taiwanese living and working in mainland China. It's our number one tourist and investment destination.
We have to realise that it is changing quickly: this is no longer the era of cultural revolution and Mao Zedong.
China is a more open society.
JOE CHAN, 56, BUSINESSMAN, KAOSHIUNG
I applaud the courage and wisdom of President Chen Shui-bian in scrapping the reunification council. This was long overdue.
Joe Chan thinks the latest spat is a case of sabre-rattling
The council had put Taiwan in a bad position, it was restraining our path to freedom.
Two things are clear to me: Taiwan is already an independent state and China is not my motherland. I don't know where my ancestors came from. Taiwanese have been here for over 400 years. We don't even want to find our origins in China.
China's warning of disaster is important but I think this is just sabre-rattling. It can't be serious about retaliation because they will have to take into account the consequences of a real war rather than a war of rhetoric.
We have been disappointed by China so many times in history. They have tried to intimidate us repeatedly, firing missiles in 1996, for example. It's all wrong.
We have a freer and better way of life here in Taiwan. Scrapping the council sends the message that we are happy with who we are.
But we have been sending these messages to China for years. Still, it doesn't listen.