updated 6/7/2005 4:17:31 AM ET 2005-06-07T08:17:31

A convention on Tuesday adopted sweeping changes to Taiwan’s constitution that will boost its top two political parties and require future amendments to go directly before voters — a measure opposed by China.

The changes were backed by both the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the main opposition Nationalists.

Two of the amendments — instituting more of a winner-takes-all system in electoral constituencies and cutting the size of the 225-seat Legislature in half — are certain to put the DPP and the Nationalists into the dominant position in Taiwanese politics.

The reforms include putting all future constitutional amendments to a public vote — drawing strong disapproval from China.

Beijing fears that President Chen Shui-bian and the DPP might use the measure to press ahead with strengthening Taiwan’s status as a self-governing entity. China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing still considers the island part of its territory to be reclaimed by force if necessary.

However, the bar for passing new constitutional amendments would be exceptionally high — a majority of all of Taiwan’s eligible voters. A simple majority of the votes cast would not suffice unless turnout was 100 percent.

The package of four amendments received 249 votes — 24 more than the required three-quarters majority in the 300-member National Assembly, which was chosen by popular ballot last month.

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