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Strait Talk Ahead of Taiwan InauguralAired May 18, 2000 - 2:34 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: China is making new threats this week, just as Taiwan gets ready to inaugurate its new president Saturday. Most analysts dismiss the talk as more bluster. And Taiwan is trying to calm the situation by showing off a piece of real estate that's just a stone's throw away from the mainland.
Here's CNN's Mike Chinoy.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the China-Taiwan conflict were to erupt into open warfare, it might well begin here, on Wu Chiu, a one-square kilometer clump of rock just off the coast of mainland China, controlled by Taiwan, a logical first target if Beijing decides to solve the Taiwan question by force.
This week, Taiwan's military took reporters on a rare visit to the heavily fortified outpost. The goal: to demonstrate that, for all of China's harsh rhetoric, the security situation remains unchanged.
"Everything is normal," says garrison commander Tsai Tien-Fu (ph). "If people at home are nervous, I want to say it's OK here."
In fact, in a society used to threats from China, many people see Beijing's warnings that President-elect Chen Shui-bian must accept that Taiwan is a part of China or face war as little more than bluster.
"We are not afraid," says this man, "we are an independent country, we have our own army."
"They will be at odds with the whole world if they attack us," says this woman.
The key test will come on Saturday, when Chen gives his inaugural address. Few here believe he will endorse the one-China principle, and some analysts believe that could mean trouble.
ANDREW YANG, INSTITUTE OF STRATEGIC STUDIES: The one-China principle, which makes Taiwan as province of the PRC. He already emphasized that this is not acceptable, and that would provide a justification for the use of force.
CHINOY: China may well be bluffing. Certainly Taiwan's armed forces appear to think so, and all the indications are that Chen Shui- bian is genuinely interested in an accommodation with Beijing.
(on camera): But accommodation is not the same thing as capitulation. In a democracy like Taiwan, there's no way Chen could accept China's demands and survive politically, and it is far from clear that goodwill without concessions will be enough to satisfy an increasingly impatient government in Beijing.
Mike Chinoy, CNN, Taipei.
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