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Taiwan's Parliament Defies China With Approval of Referendum Proposal - 2003-11-27


Taiwan's parliament has approved a proposal that would allow the government to hold an independence referendum if China were to use force to try to unify the island with the mainland.

The so-called "defensive referendum" measure was passed during a lengthy session of parliament in Taipei today (Thursday). Its passage is seen as a major act of defiance toward Beijing, which has often threatened to forcibly bring Taiwan under its rule.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has said his government will not hold a referendum on independence as long as China does not attack. He now has a legal mechanism to hold such a vote if he needs it.

Lawmakers rejected legislation that would have placed no restrictions on holding referendums. Instead, they voted to give parliament authority to screen potential referendum issues, like whether to change the island's official name or revise its constitution.

Beijing had said it would make a strong response if a referendum law were passed without restrictions.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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