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China Reacts Strongly to US Comments on Taiwan - 2002-04-09

China is reacting angrily to a top Pentagon official's statement that the United States will do whatever it takes to help defend Taiwan against attack. China says the comments undermine Sino-American relations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said that the remarks made by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz represent a gross interference in China's internal affairs.

Ms. Zhang told reporters in Beijing Tuesday that Mr. Wolfowitz's speech violated U.S. pledges to uphold a one-China policy. Ms. Zhang repeated China's opposition to American arms sales to Taiwan. She said closer ties between the United States and Taiwan increased tension across the Taiwan Strait, and encouraged Taiwanese pro-independence activists. Ms. Zhang called on the United States to stop undermining its relations with China.

Mr. Wolfowitz said in a speech last month made public only Monday that the United States is committed to doing whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend itself. At a closed defense industry conference March 11, the senior Pentagon official said that in addition to selling arms to Taiwan, the United States would help train the island's military. Over Beijing's objections, Taiwan's defense minister was among those attending the Florida conference.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a rebel province that must be reunited with the mainland, and threatened to attack the island if it declares independence or drags its feet on reunification.