After a big rally in Kaohsiung, Chen Shui-bian is accused of wanting to turn the island into an independent country The central government yesterday criticised Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, saying he is not sincere about reconciliation with the mainland. In a hard-hitting statement, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under the State Council, blasted Mr Chen for going back on his pledge to not seek to change Taiwan's status quo - an undertaking he made when he took office three years ago. The spokesman's comment came just a day after almost 200,000 pro-independence supporters marched in Taiwan's southern city of Kaohsiung to support Mr Chen's call for a new constitution in 2008. Mr Chen told the rally that Taiwan needed to revise its constitution and pass legislation allowing referendums if the island was to become a 'complete country'. The official in Beijing said those comments betrayed Mr Chen's true intention of wanting to turn the island into an independent country. 'This shows that all this talk by the leader in Taiwan that he would uphold the 'four nots' and one 'no' is completely a lie,' a spokesman of the office told Xinhua. Mr Chen said in his 2000 inaugural speech that he would not declare independence, change the republic's national title, push for the inclusion of the so-called 'state-to-state' description in the constitution, nor promote the use of a referendum to decide the issue of independence or unification. The 'state-to-state' description was first put forward by Mr Chen's predecessor Lee Teng-hui in the mid-1990s, who compared the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland as that of two independent states. In addition to the 'four nots', Mr Chen also promised in his 2000 speech that he had no plan to abolish the National Unification Council - a body set up in 1990 by Mr Lee to build consensus on unification with the mainland. But the TAO spokesman dismissed Mr Chen's pledge, saying his recent words and deeds had shown that he was lying. 'Acts by the independence forces to separate Taiwan from the mainland directly hurt the interests of Taiwanese compatriots,' the spokesman said. 'They [will bring] disaster to Taiwan.' He stressed that Taiwan and the mainland both 'belonged to the same China', and that national sovereignty must not be compromised. The criticism by the TAO, however, was focused on Mr Chen and his partner, Vice-President Annette Lu Hsiu-lien, and touched only lightly on Saturday's mass demonstration - apparently to avoid alienating Taiwan's public. While visiting New Zealand, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing also made a veiled attack on Mr Chen, contrasting him with Soong Mei-ling, who died in New York last Thursday. She was the widow of the late Kuomintang Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Speaking to Hong Kong reporters, Mr Li praised Soong for her role in the anti-Japanese war and said although she had lived in New York for much of her latter life, she still 'considered herself a Chinese'.