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The BBC's Adam Brooks in Beijing
"This time Beijing is using only threatening rhetoric, but it is unsettling Taiwan all the same"
 real 28k

The BBC's Duncan Hewitt reports from Beijing
"Zhu Rongji's message was stark"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 14:11 GMT
China ups pressure on Taiwan
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji
Zhu Rongji said China would do business with Taiwan
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji has renewed Beijing's warnings to Taiwan, telling the island's voters not to vote for pro-independence candidates in this week's presidential election.

"Do not just act on impulse at this juncture which will decide the future course that China and Taiwan will follow," the premier told his annual news conference. "Otherwise I'm afraid you won't get another opportunity to regret."

Chinese people will sacrifice their lives and use all their blood to defend China's sovereignty and dignity

Zhu Rongji, Chinese premier
"We believe in the political wisdom of the people of Taiwan and we trust that our Taiwan compatriots will make the right historical choice," Zhu Rongji said.

He said China was prepared to hold talks with whoever won power in Taipei, currently a three-way race between pro-independence Chen Shui-bian, the ruling Kuomintang candidate Vice President Lien Chan and independent James Soong.

But he warned they must all banish talk of making the 50-year separation across the Taiwan Strait permanent.

Anyone who proposed Taiwanese independence will "not end up well".

Correspondents say Mr Zhu's strong words are likely to have a big impact in Taiwan as he is seen as one of China's more pragmatic and less strident leaders.

'Terror card'

But in southern Taiwan where support for independence is strong, Chen Shui-bian told a rally China was playing the "terror card."

Chen Shui-bian
Chen Shui-bian: Voters can decide
He said voters would not be scared by the threats of force and would not reunify with China under the "one country, two systems" formula used for Hong Kong and Macau.

Taiwan reacted quickly to the Chinese premier's comments, saying China should not interfere in the elections.

"Mr Zhu, like other People's Republic of China officials, has no right to say anything about our election," said Su Chi, chairman of the Taiwan cabinet's Mainland Affairs Council.

Mr Su said the Taiwanese Government defended Mr Chen's right to advocate independence even though it did not support his stand.

"Mr Chen has every right to say everything about Taiwan independence because this is a democracy," Mr Su said.


Last month China threatened to use military force against Taiwan if the island dragged its feet indefinitely on reunification talks.

"Those people who have made wrong calculations do not know the history of China and that the Chinese people will sacrifice their lives and use all their blood to defend China's sovereignty and dignity," Mr Zhu said at his news conference.

He also urged US President Bill Clinton to change his language on Taiwan demanding that the US leader stop threatening Beijing on the issue.

"There must be a shift from threat to dialogue across the Pacific Ocean," Zhu Rongji said, breaking into English.

He was taking issue with comments by Mr Clinton on Sunday in which the US president called for "a shift from threat to dialogue across the Taiwan Strait".

The United States has repeatedly urged China to stop making theats to invade Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

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