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China Warns it May Use Force to Reunite Taiwan - 2002-08-01

China's defense minister says the mainland will not renounce the use of force against Taiwan. Beijing also expresses dissatisfaction with warming ties between the United States and Taiwan.

As China marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, a top defense official warned the army is determined to safeguard national sovereignty.

The official China Daily newspaper quotes Defense Minister Chi Haotian as describing China as a "Great Wall of Steel."

The newspaper quotes Mr. Chi as saying that China will try its utmost to peacefully reunite with Taiwan, but that the country does not renounce the use of force to retake the island. He reportedly said China will step up military training with high-technology weapons and enhance the combat readiness of its troops.

Robert Karniol, Asia editor for Jane's Defense Weekly in Bangkok, says Mr. Chi's speech held no surprises.

"That's another reiteration of a long-standing policy rather than an expression of any new ideas or new initiatives," he said.

China considers Taiwan its territory, and has long threatened to attack the island if it declares independence or drags its feet on unification with the mainland. The island has been governed separately since Chinese Nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war against the communists.

Separately, China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said he is seriously concerned about warming ties between the United States and Taiwan. Mr. Tang made the comment Wednesday at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei.

Mr. Tang called on Washington to stop arms sales to Taiwan, and to end military contacts with the island.