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China Says It Won't Let Taiwan Use Democracy As Cover For Separatism

Maybe the US should do a debt swap 10 years from now. China wipes the debt slate clean and Taiwan gets thrown to the dragons
United Nations (AFP) Dec 11, 2003
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warned that Beijing would not allow Taiwan to use democratic aspirations as a cover for separatism, after arriving Sunday in the United States where he met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

Wen, during his three-day official visit to the United States, is to seek assurances from the administration of US President George W. Bush that Washington will rein in Taiwan, viewed by China as a renegade province, the Chinese news agency Xinhua said.

The Chinese premier's arrival in New York came two days after Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian announced he would hold a referendum critical of China's missile threat to the island -- which Beijing views as a renegade province -- next March.

President George W. Bush is due to welcome Wen at the White House on Tuesday, with both sides hoping common interests on issues like North Korea will trump gaping divisions over the nationalist island, weapons proliferation and trade.

However, Washington has yet to publicly condemn Chen's decision on the Taiwan referendum.

Wen, asked Sunday about the referendum, said mainland China understood "the aspiration of the people in Taiwan for democracy."

"However, the essence of the problem now is that the separatist forces within the Taiwan authorities attempt to use democracy only as a cover to split Taiwan away from China and this is what we will never tolerate," Wen was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Meanwhile, during Sunday's meeting at UN headquarters, Wen and Annan "had a very constructive and stimulating conversation," the United Nations chief said.

Annan said that discussions had focused on China-UN relations, Iraq , the Korean Peninsula and efforts to contain AIDS /HIV .

"We also agreed to continue our cooperation," he said, noting talks by the two on UN reform and the need to strengthen the organization to "make it effective and more responsive to the challenges of our time."

"I was also very, very pleased to be able to thank him for the very strong support, economic, material, financial and otherwise, that China is providing to the African continent," Annan said.

Wen's visit is part of a four-nation tour which will also take him to Canada, Mexico and Ethiopia. On the three-day US leg Wen will visit Washington and Boston as well as New York, diplomatic Chinese sources said.

Asked how Taiwan's announcement that it intends to hold a referendum would complicate Asian issues and affairs, Annan replied: "All differences will be settled politically ... We maintain the One China Policy and the need to resolve all issues peacefully."

On Friday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell for his part commenting on Taiwan said: "We remain totally committed to our one-China policy founded on the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act," in remarks clearly directed towards Beijing.

"We do not support independence for Taiwan."

Beijing has condemned the referendum as one step closer to the plebiscite on independence it has warned could trigger an invasion to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.

Analysts say Washington is unlikely to alter its formula for Taiwan policy. Opposing both independence and any Chinese military designs on the island, the US president is bound by law to offer the means of self defense.

"The current position is the best strategic position ... (the administration) doesn't need a crisis over Taiwan in an election year," said John Gershman of the Foreign Policy in Focus think tank, referring to the US presidential election in 2004.

US-Chinese cooperation over North Korea, and China's help on the US anti-terror campaign, have led Bush aides to employ warm praise for Beijing -- which would have seemed implausible three years ago.

"US relations with China are the best they have been since President Nixon's first visit," Powell said in September, referring to the former US leader's epochal journey to Beijing in 1972.

In recent months, those gains have been threatened.

Bush has been besieged by opponents who claim low-wage China is sucking tens of thousands of jobs from US workers, and is artificially protecting its currency.

All rights reserved. 2003 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Taiwan To Hold Historic "Anti-Missile, Anti-War" Referendum: Chen
Taipei (AFP) Dec 08, 2003
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian said that his government planned an "anti-missile, anti-war" landmark referendum next year aimed at asking rival China to dismantle hundreds of ballistic missiles targeting the island.

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