China's parliament has passed legislation giving the country's military a legal basis for attacking Taiwan if the island moves toward declaring independence.
The law was approved early Monday by the National People's Congress - a largely rubber-stamp legislature that approves decisions made by the ruling Communist Party.
Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province, and opposes any moves by the island to boost its international profile. The new law says China will employ "non-peaceful means" to prevent Taiwanese independence if efforts at peaceful reunification fail.
Chinese President Hu Jintao Sunday urged the armed forces to step up preparations for possible military struggle. But, speaking after its passage, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the new law is not a "war bill."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking on American television (ABC), urged both China and Taiwan to avoid actions that could raise tensions.
Some information provided by AP and AFP.