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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 September, 2004, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
China says Taiwan war-mongering
Woman in Beijing passes poster of Chinese missile launch
China has been boasting of its militay might against Taiwan
China has stepped up its war of words with Taiwan, accusing the island's premier of "clamouring for war".

A senior Chinese official said recent comments about missiles by Premier Yu Shyi-kun were "a serious provocation".

Mr Yu said last week the island needed to complete a big US arms purchase, and also suggested it should have offensive missiles to deter Chinese attack.

The Chinese official said the comments proved Taiwan's government wanted independence.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory, and has threatened to invade if the island ever declared independence.

"Any person, any force using whatever methods to attempt to seek Taiwan independence and make enemies with 1.3bn Chinese people is doomed to failure," said Li Weiyi, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Arms race

The latest row was prompted by a speech Mr Yu made last week, in which he appeared to argue that Taiwan should be allowed to acquire offensive weapons.

He said Taiwan could deter Chinese attack if the two sides were locked in a "balance of terror", similar to that which existed between the US and former USSR.

"If you fire 100 missiles at me, I should also be able to fire 100 missiles at you, or at least 50. If you attack Taipei and Kaohsiung, I should at least be able to strike Shanghai," Mr Yu told supporters.

Taiwan's military capability is at present almost entirely defensive.

But the island's leaders are increasingly worried by China's positioning of several hundred missiles across the Taiwan Strait. A recent Pentagon report said some of Taiwan's political and military leaders had suggested acquiring weapons capable of striking against China as a cost-effective means of deterrence.

But most analysts think it is extremely unlikely that Taiwan's main ally, the US, would allow it to buy or build a significant offensive arms capacity, since that would risk war with China.

Mr Yu made his comments in response to criticism of his government's plan to buy $18bn of US defensive weapons, including anti-missile systems, planes and submarines.

The proposed deal sparked a protest at the weekend by thousands of protesters, who argued it could spark an arms race.

They say the money would be better spent on public welfare projects.

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