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Taiwan Leader Signs Referendum Law - 2003-12-31


Taiwan's president has signed a law legalizing referendums - clearing the way for a March vote on whether to demand that China stop pointing missiles at the island. China's communist leaders have blasted the move.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian signed the measure into law Wednesday, which allows him to hold a referendum if the island faces an external threat.

The president has called for a vote to coincide with March elections on whether to demand that China stop pointing missiles at the island.

China has publicly blasted the move as cover for Taiwan to seek formal independence. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which has been ruled separately since 1949.

China accuses Mr. Chen of playing the independence card to boost his reelection bid, saying he is waging a "holy war" against the mainland. Chinese spokesman, Zhang Mingqing, Wednesday told reporters Mr. Chen is being immoral.

"Chen Shui-bian uses information regardless of whether it is true as long as it benefits him in the elections," Mr. Chen said.

Taiwanese officials say Beijing is using the elections as an excuse to accuse Taipei of moving toward independence, much as it has in the run-up to the island's past elections.

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