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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 14:05 GMT
Taiwan rejects Paris poll warning
Chinese President Hu Jintao (left) and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac share a laughter during a joint press conference  in Paris
Mr Chirac reaffirmed his backing of a "one China" policy
Taiwan has said it "deeply regrets" France's opposition to a planned referendum which has angered China.

On Monday, French President Jacques Chirac told his visiting Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao that holding the poll would be a "mistake".

But Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Richard Shih said Taipei would go ahead with the vote, and blamed China for pressurising governments on the issue.

China is worried the vote could move Taiwan closer to formal independence.

On Tuesday, President Chirac stepped up his criticism of Taiwan's ballot, describing it as threat to stability in South East Asia.

"All initiatives that can be interpreted as aggressive by one side or the other are dangerous for everyone and thus irresponsible," Mr Chirac said.

Earlier, the French leader also reaffirmed his backing of a "one China" policy and warned Taiwan against "breaking the status quo".

'Threat to peace'

"The Chinese communists have constantly elevated their military deployments against Taiwan, and they have even pointed 496 missiles at the island," Mr Shih told a news conference in the capital Taipei.

"That's what really constitutes a threat to peace and stability (in the region)," the spokesman added.

The 20 March referendum is due to ask voters if Taiwan should increase its defences, if China refused to redeploy hundreds of missiles pointed at Taiwan.

People are also set to be asked if they backed opening negotiations with China.

Earlier, China received strong support from France at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

The French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, argued that it was time to lift a ban imposed on arms sales to China after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Ministers voted to keep the ban in place, but agreed to reconsider the proposal at a future date.

French MPs snub China president
27 Jan 04  |  Europe
Chirac backs China on Taiwan
27 Jan 04  |  Europe
China condemns Taiwan poll plans
17 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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