Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

China considers force against Taiwan

A Taiwanese soldier scans video footage of the China coast

The Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, has told President Clinton that force against Taiwan remains an option, as the diplomatic war of words continues.

[ image:  ]
Tension between China and Taiwan began rising just over a week ago, when the Taiwanese President, Lee Teng-hui, called for relations between the two sides to be redefined as state-to-state ties.

Mr Jiang told Mr Clinton in a phone conversation that the Taiwanese leader had taken "a very dangerous step ... toward splitting the country," according to the Chinese news agency.

Taiwan was part of Chinese territory and Beijing would brook no separation, he said.

A Taiwanese foreign ministry spokesman responded to Jiang's comments by saying Taipei would not bow to pressure from Beijing to isolate it internationally, demanding "the reality of our existence be better understood by the world and that our voice be heard."

BBC Beijing correspondent James Miles says President Clinton's telephone call to his Chinese counterpart late on Sunday was a clear sign of Washington's concern over the escalation of tension between China and Taiwan in recent days.

Use of force

The Chinese president told Mr Clinton that Beijing would not "sit idly by and do nothing if foreign forces interfere in China's reunification cause".

The BBC's James Miles: "China building up the level of tension according to a familiar pattern"
"We are not committed to abandoning the use of force on the Taiwan issue because there are certain forces both within the island and in the world that attempt to separate Taiwan from the motherland," Mr Jiang is quoted as saying.

The army has openly vowed to take action if Taiwan moves towards seeking independence. The United States has repeatedly warned Beijing that it will not tolerate a violent solution to the Taiwan issue.

A White House spokesman said Mr Clinton expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved peacefully.

Military exercises

[ image: China says Mr Lee's comments are a violation of the
China says Mr Lee's comments are a violation of the "One China" principle
Last week, Beijing staged a 12-hour exercise involving more than 100 civilian vessels in the Taiwan straits - practising a rapid call-up in case of war.

Large-scale army, navy, and air force exercises are also being planned along the coast in Zhejiang province and the city of Shanghai, according to the independent Hong Kong daily Ming Pao.

The paper said the exercises would be staged as a warning to President Lee and as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of communist rule.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

17 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China 'rehearses for war'

15 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China denies stealing neutron secrets

14 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Tension across the Taiwan Straits

15 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
China attacks Taiwan's 'criminal' president

15 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan alert over Chinese threat

Internet Links

People's Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan)

Taiwan Government

US State Department

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Indonesia rules out Aceh independence

DiCaprio film trial begins

Millennium sect heads for the hills

Uzbekistan voices security concerns

From Business
Chinese imports boost US trade gap

ICRC visits twelve Burmese jails

Falintil guerillas challenge East Timor peackeepers

Malaysian candidates named

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Holbrooke to arrive in Indonesia

China warns US over Falun Gong

Thais hand back Cambodian antiques