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China to Keep Close Eye on Taiwan's UN Referendum Plans


China says it will closely monitor developments in Taiwan following a government-organized rally supporting Taiwan's efforts to re-enter the United Nations.

The official Xinhua news agency Sunday quotes a spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office as saying China will "keep a close watch" on the other side of the Taiwan strait, and will prepare for a "serious situation."

President Chen Shui-bian plans to hold a public referendum next year asking voters if the island should try to re-enter the U.N. under the name "Taiwan." More than 100,000 people marched in a pro-referendum rally Saturday.

China and the United States object to the proposed referendum, saying it could provoke renewed instability in the Taiwan Strait.

In 1971, Taiwan lost its U.N. seat to the mainland Chinese government.

China considers the self-ruled island to be a renegade province with no rights to sovereignty.

Taiwan split from China in 1949 during China's civil war. Beijing has threatened to take military action if Taiwan's government declares formal independence from the mainland.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.