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World - Asia/Pacific

China lashes Taiwan over Lee's rhetorical change

Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui said Taiwan will now handle all dealings with Beijing as 'nation-to-nation'

CNN's Mike Chinoy reports on the tensions between China and Taiwan (July 13)
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CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon explains China's latest warning to Taiwan (July 13)
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China tomorrow


July 13, 1999
Web posted at: 5:05 p.m. EDT (2105 GMT)

BEIJING (CNN) -- China blasted Taiwan's government Tuesday for what it called "attempting to split the motherland" by renouncing the "one China" formula advocated by Beijing.

"This is an extremely dangerous step ... " said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue. "This is something that cannot be accepted by the Chinese people, including by the people in Taiwan."

"This" refers to statements over the weekend by Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui that from now on, Taiwan will handle all dealings with Beijing as "nation-to-nation relations."

"Under such special nation-to-nation relations, there is no longer any need to declare Taiwanese independence," Lee said in an interview with the Deutche Welle radio station in Germany.

China's reaction was swift, warning that the rhetorical shift could jeopardize any future talks between it and Taiwan. Last month the two sides agreed to go ahead with an unprecedented visit to Taiwan by senior Chinese statesman Wang Daohan, but Chinese state media quoted Wang as saying Lee's statements undermined the foundation for cross-straits talks.

Beijing also reiterated that it reserves the right to use force if Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province, declares formal independence.

Military threats

It's not the first time China has threatened force -- in 1995 and 1996 China held military exercises in the Taiwan Straits after Lee defied Chinese warnings and traveled to the United States. Beijing also called that act an attempt to split the motherland because he was acting like a head of state.

Taiwan is watching the Chinese reaction closely.

"There is a growing threat, military missile threat, from the People's Republic of China," said Taiwan government spokesman Chen Chien-jen. "We do need advanced equipment. We have been procuring a lot of equipment from the United States. We need it for surface defense and air defense."

And there is a growing public support for putting Taiwan under the security umbrella of a U.S. Theater Missile Defense System (TMD). China vigorously objects such a step, but Lee's government wants to use that possibility to extract diplomatic concessions from Beijing.

"The Theater Missile Defense System is a system that should be studied and reviewed," said Vice President Lien Chan. "But I like to point out that whether we participate or not depends very much on the moves and response from Beijing."

Beijing Bureau Chief Rebecca MacKinnon and Hong Kong Bureau Chief Mike Chinoy contributed to this report.

China champions democratic, market reforms in Tibet
July 12, 1999

Taiwan Government Information Office
Chinese Embassy
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