BEIJING (AP) – China called on Taiwan’s president to renounce possible plans for independence on the eve of his inauguration to a new term, warning that it isn’t afraid to attack the island even if that means sacrificing good relations with Washington.
China “will never tolerate Taiwan independence,” the Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily and other state media said in a series of bellicose commentaries Wednesday.
They warned that Beijing is ready to use “non-peaceful means” to keep President Chen Shui-bian from trying to make the self-ruled island’s de facto independence permanent.
Chen is due to be sworn-in for a second four-year term in Taipei on Thursday.
China wants “Chen to soften (his) radical separatist stance in his inauguration speech,” the newspaper China Daily said. Beijing views that speech as a blueprint for Chen’s second four-year term.
China accuses Chen of plotting independence, though his conflicting statements have left his true intentions a mystery.
China and Taiwan split in 1949, but Beijing claims the island as part of its territory and has threatened to attack if it declares independence or delays talks on unification. China’s military has hundreds of missiles pointed at the island and has been building up its naval capacity to give weight to its threats.
Chinese media rejected suggestions that Beijing might be restrained by fears of economic or diplomatic damage.
Beijing will accept “a slowdown in its modernization bid, a reversion in Sino-U.S. ties and the boycott of the Olympic Games” in Beijing in 2008, the China Daily quoted Xu Bodong, director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies at Beijing United University, as saying.
Beijing often uses such official experts as spokespeople for policies on Taiwan and other controversial issues, possibly hoping their academic credentials add force to its position.
Also Wednesday, state television led its midday newscast with a statement by China’s Foreign Ministry protesting U.S. plans to send a delegation to attend Chen’s inauguration, warning that it would be giving “the wrong signals to the Taiwan authorities.”
Beijing has accused Chen of pushing relations to “the brink of danger” by supporting revisions to Taiwan’s constitution and a companion referendum during the presidential election in March on whether the island should step up defenses against China.
The referendum failed when too few voters took part, but Beijing opposed it as a possible rehearsal for a public vote on independence.
In a toughly worded statement Monday, the mainland vowed to “firmly and thoroughly” crush any moves toward independence while urging Chen to resume long-stalled talks on unification.
The statement called for the first time for “mutual trust in the military field,” but did not elaborate.