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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 08:54 GMT
Taiwan presses China on missiles
Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian
The opposition wants to scupper Mr Chen's proposed referendum
Taiwan's parliament has passed two resolutions asking China to remove hundreds of missiles targeting Taiwan.

The opposition-inspired move was aimed at countering President Chen Shui-bian's planned referendum on the issue.

The opposition has argued that a referendum is unnecessary because it is clear that most Taiwanese would want China to remove the missiles.

China, which regards Taiwan as its territory, is worried that a vote could be seen as a move towards independence.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the opposition could not agree on the wording of the resolution so they decided to pass two versions.

The DPP version asked for China to remove the missiles pointed at Taiwan and to respect the island's sovereignty.

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) version said: "We hope the Chinese authorities will not install any new missiles, and gradually remove those that have already been installed."

"The resolution is meant to dilute the mandate of President Chen Shui-bian in holding a controversial referendum on the missile issue," said PFP parliamentarian Huang Yi-chiao.

"It has already expressed the views and wishes of the Taiwanese people, so the proposed missile vote, which has fuelled cross-strait tensions and angered Washington, should become unnecessary," he said.

Mr Chen has stressed that his "defensive referendum", planned for 20 March, is aimed at "avoiding war".

Taiwan's Vice President, Annette Lu, said in a Reuters interview on Tuesday that the Chinese missiles pointing at her island were a form of "state terrorism".

This provoked a strong reaction from Beijing.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the remarks were "unreasonable" and saying that China opposed anyone trying to split Taiwan from the mainland.

The BBC's Francis Markus
"Beijing hasn't held back in the past from damning Ms Lu as a traitor"

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