- BEIJING (Reuters) - China,
keeping up a steady stream of threats in a bitter row over Taiwan's political
status, said on Sunday its army does not rule out an invasion to crush
any attempts by the island to declare independence.
- The threat was splashed on the front page of Hong Kong's
Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper with a picture of waves of amphibious
vessels and vehicles making beach landings.
- "Beijing: Will not renounce force to counter Taiwan
independence," the banner headline screamed.
- The newspaper quoted an unidentified military official
as saying the "military measures would be taken only if there were
no other alternatives."
- "When peaceful reunification is hopeless and 'Taiwan
independence' forces are splitting the motherland, we will not rule out
the use of force to resolve the Taiwan problem" the official was quoted
- "We have ample power. This point is not to be doubted,"
- Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui touched off the new spat
last week by scrapping Taipei's longstanding "One China" policy
that has kept the peace for decades.
- Lee said Beijing-Taipei contacts now would have to be
conducted on a "special state-to-state" basis, rather than between
"political entities," the old formula.
- Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province
that must be brought under its rule, denounced the move as one towards
Taiwan independence and heaped abuse on Lee.
- Taipei, which agrees reconciliation is a shared goal
but says it will only embrace a democratic China, has been estranged from
the mainland since the Nationalists lost a civil war to the Communists
and fled into exile on the island in 1949.
- It says junking the "One China" policy has
not changed reality and has offered to talk Beijing through its reasoning.
Beijing has hinted it might listen.
- Washington has issued a clear warning to Beijing, saying
any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means
would be of "grave concern" to the United States.
- Wen Wei Po said "wartime mobilisation drills"
involving more than 100 civilian vessels were held off the frontline province
of Fujian facing Taiwan on Friday.
- Seamen gathered for the drills, conducted by the Nanjing
Military Region, sang: "We will liberate Taiwan," the paper said.
- Su Jing, deputy chief of staff of the Nanjing military
region which includes Fujian, watched the 12-hour drill in the frontline
area about 160 km (100 miles) from Taiwan, it said.
- Mainland state media remained silent on the "wartime
- One Chinese political analyst said tensions would mount.
- "The mobilisation of civilian vessels is a sign
China could take military action on a very large scale," said the
analyst, who asked not to be identified.
- "Civilian vessels are mobilised only when there
are not enough military vessels," he added.
- Hong Kong's independent Ming Pao daily, quoting unidentified
sources, said on Saturday China's army, navy and air force were planning
joint exercises in Fujian, but their timing and other details had yet to
- Taipei's policy change has rippled through Asian financial
markets, also hurting China's own markets in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
- Taiwan authorities marshalled billions of dollars of
state funds on Saturday to stem a sharp stock market slide.
- In 1995 and 1996 China's armed forces held months of
war games in and around the Taiwan Strait after Lee paid a private visit
to the United States that Beijing saw as a bid to break out of diplomatic
- China fired missiles into Taiwan waters and the United
States sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area and China-U.S.
ties were strained for more than a year afterwards.
- Meanwhile, the People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper,
said in a front-page commentary Taiwan's "farcical" attempt to
break out of diplomatic isolation is "doomed to fail."
- "Lee Teng-hui must be held responsible for his words
and deeds to split the motherland," the commentary said.