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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 19:33 GMT 20:33 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Chinese threaten Taiwan

Mr Jiang: Condolences for quake victims

The Chinese President Jiang Zemin has warned Taiwan that his government is prepared to use force should the island opt for outright independence from the mainland.

The threat came with Taiwan still reeling from the devastating earthquake which struck on 21 September.

President Jiang used an international gathering of business executives to remind Taiwan of China's determination to recover the island, which has been estranged from the communist-ruled mainland since 1949.

Quake in Taiwan
"No country will allow its own territory to be split off, nor will it allow any foreign force to create or support such a split," he told the meeting of about 800 executives and officials in Shanghai.

Eventual resolution of the Taiwan issue was "certain" and China aimed to reunify with the island peacefully, he said.

China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province.

Repeating long-standing policy, Mr Jiang said: "We will not undertake to renounce the use of force precisely for the purpose of bringing about a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question."

'State-to-state' relations

[ image: Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui: a thorn in Beijing's side]
Taiwan's Lee Teng-hui: a thorn in Beijing's side
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been strained since Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui declared in July that bilateral ties must be conducted on a "special state-to-state" basis.

Until then the island's government had shared the goal of reunification with the mainland.

China's bitter reaction to Mr Lee's remarks included a series of threatening statements in communist-controlled newspapers in Hong Kong and the renewed threat to use force to prevent independence.

China: 50 years of communism / Revolution Glossary
Even in the aftermath of the earthquake, Beijing has repeatedly demanded that President Lee withdraw his remarks, prompting Taipei to accuse Beijing of mixing politics with relief efforts.

Following reports that Beijing had obliged foreign countries to seek its blessing when sending aid and relief teams to Taiwan, the Taiwanese Foreign Minister, Jason Hu, said China was "looting a burning house".

Taiwan has rebuffed Beijing's offer to send help.

In his speech, Mr Jiang once again extended condolences for the more than 2,000 deaths from the earthquake.

He also spent a considerable amount of time defending China's human rights record.

Correspondents said his tone was incongruous, given that his audience had come to Shanghai to hear an endorsement of China's economic reforms.

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