The Taiwanese government stressed yesterday that its plan to scrap the National Unification Council (NUC) would not change the cross-strait status quo, despite US concern and a warning from the mainland. 'Scrapping the NUC and its guidelines is actually consistent with [our efforts] to maintain the cross-strait status quo. I don't think it will intensify cross-strait tensions,' said Joseph Wu Jau-shieh, head of Taiwan's top mainland policy planning body, the Mainland Affairs Council. Beijing has said such a move would escalate cross-strait tension and a worried US administration has called on Taiwan not to do anything that would fuel tensions or alter the status quo, especially after the island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party voted on Wednesday to support the plan to scrap the council - possibly as soon as next week. US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said: 'We continue to make clear to the authorities in Taipei that we oppose steps by either side that raise tensions or that alter the status quo, and that relates to ongoing issues as well as previous ones.' It was at least the fifth time since late last month that the US administration had expressed concern at Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's plan to scrap the council, set up by the former Kuomintang government in 1991 to leave open the possibility of cross-strait unification and to prevent the mainland from using Taiwan's refusal to reunite as an excuse for war. On January 29 Mr Chen said it was time to consider abolishing the council. His statement surprised the US, because he had time and again said he would abide by pledges made in his inaugural speeches, in 2000 and 2004, not to change the cross-strait status quo. Washington has reportedly sent envoys, including White House National Security Council official Dennis Wilder, to the island in a vain attempt to stop Mr Chen's plan because of concerns that it will irritate the mainland and escalate cross-strait tensions. Media reports have said Washington might take punitive measures against Taiwan. Meanwhile, Beijing has stepped up its rhetoric against Taiwan, worrying that Mr Chen might be trying to advance his timetable for Taiwanese independence. In a commentary yesterday, Xinhua said that while insisting he would not break his previous pledges, the island's leader had 'suddenly removed his cover, trying to use the scrapping of the NUC as a breakthrough point to overthrow the commitments he had made to people across the Taiwan Strait and the international community, and push for de jure independence'. Meanwhile, Mr Wu's predecessor, Su Chi, said President Chen had sent a secret envoy to the mainland late last year to seek reconciliation, but talks broke down because of Beijing's suspicion that Mr Chen was campaigning for independence. Mr Wu and the Presidential Office, however, dismissed Mr Su's claim as groundless.