BEIJING, China # China has denounced plans by Taiwan’s president to push ahead with a poll next month but says it won’t interfere.
At the same time as holding presidential elections in March, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian is planning a referendum on missile defense.
Chen wants to ask voters whether the island should beef up its anti-missile defenses if Beijing refuses to withdraw the hundreds of missiles it has pointed at Taiwan.
China regards Taiwan as part of its territory, which must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
It has been angered by Chen’s plan to hold the referendum, seeing it as a step towards independence.
“No matter how he packages or defends this referendum, Chen cannot conceal his evil intention of using it to pave the way for future referendums on Taiwan independence,” Zhang Mingqing, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday.
China has repeatedly warned Taiwan that any such move would justify military actions from Beijing.
France and the United States have also warned the island against the poll, saying it would upset the status quo between China and Taiwan.
Earlier this month Chen called on China to set up a demilitarized zone and establish special envoys to be based in Beijing and Taipei, a plan that Beijing officials dismissed on Wednesday.
But in a bid to quell accusations that Beijing is helping its preferred candidates from the opposition Nationalist Party defeat Chen, China promised not to meddle in the upcoming presidential elections.
“We did not, do not and will not interfere with elections in Taiwan,” Zhang said.
“We do not care who will be elected. What we care about is the winner’s attitude towards cross-Taiwan Strait relations and national reunification.”
The two sides split in 1949 after the Nationalists lost to the Communists in a bitter civil war and fled to the island.
The Nationalists, who oppose Taiwan independence, ruled the island for five decades until Chen and his party swept to power in 2000.