Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian will shut down the National Unification Council (NUC) in a move that could take the island closer to formal independence, the Financial Times reported. The NUC is responsible for facilitating Taiwan's eventual reunification with mainland China and, although its role is largely symbolic, closure would undermine a promise Chen made to the US not to alter the status quo. It is also claimed that he has yet to respond to US calls for a reaffirmation of his promise not to declare independence. Chen's behavior has been criticized by Taiwan businessmen working in mainland China who fear it will undermine cross Strait activities. China Taiwan trade reached US$71.7 billion in 2005, with Taiwan enjoying a trade surplus of US$31.8 billion.