SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Nov. 28) - Taiwan's Parliament has approved watered-down draft legislation which would allow a referendum to be held on amending the island's constitution, despite warnings from China not to pass the bill.

The Parliament has voted 114 to 96 to approve a controversial clause in the referendum bill, proposed by the opposition Kuomintang and the People First Party, which would allow the constitution to be changed.

The move, dubbed a "defensive referendum" clause, could be used to promote the island's independence.

The Opposition pushed through a clause that blocks referendums on the most sensitive subjects, including sovereignty, flag and changing Taiwan's name.

It was also successful in passing an article that said only the public and Parliament, and not the government, could initiate a referendum.

The development comes despite stern warnings from China that such a move could lead to war.

"The referendum plan on a 'new constitution' will not be tolerated by the Chinese people, including the compatriots in Taiwan," the official Xinhua news agency quoted an article due to run on Friday in a key Communist Party newspaper.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has vowed to attack the island if it declares independence.

China's Taiwan Affairs office had warned of a "strong response" should an unlimited referendum law be passed.

November 28, 2003

ABC News Online: www.abc.net.au


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