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China Continues Verbal Attacks on Taiwanese President - 2002-08-12

China is keeping up verbal attacks on Taiwan's president, saying Taipei's separatist conspiracy is doomed to fail. Now Chinese state media are blaming Washington for emboldening Taiwan to consider moving toward independence.

China's official newspapers continue to fill pages with stern warnings to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to end his talk about formal independence. The state-run Global Times Monday displays a front-page photo of a Chinese warship carrying out a live ammunition exercise with a headline warning Taiwan independence will not be easily won. A lengthy article describes how difficult it would be for the island to defend itself from attack by Chinese forces.

The official Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, says Taiwan's pro-independence conspiracy is doomed to fail. The English-language China Daily welcomes Washington's recent statement saying it does not support Taiwanese independence. But an editorial in the newspaper blames the United States for encouraging separatist sentiment on Taiwan by selling it high-tech weapons.

Yan Xuetong, a mainland expert on Taiwan and international affairs at Beijing's Qinghua University, echoed these views. Mr. Yan complained that Washington's current policy implies it wants to make Taiwan a military ally of the United States. He said the Bush Administration's increased support for Taiwan emboldened Chen Shui-bian to make his controversial speech earlier this month in which he supported a referendum on possible independence from the mainland.

President Chen also sparked Beijing's fury by describing Taiwan and China as separate countries. Mr. Chen has since said that his words were oversimplified and over-interpreted by the media. But he has not backed away from his statement and has instead been rallying Taiwan political forces to unite in the face of Chinese threats.

Mr. Yan criticized increased U.S. arms sales to Taipei, as well as President Bush's promise that Washington will do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan. He said these and other moves by the United States to upgrade ties with Taipei naturally encourage pro-independence forces on the island.

Mainland scholars say Washington needs to show the world that it backs the one-China principle, which states that Taiwan and China belong to the same country.

Both sides have been ruled separately since 1949, when Nationalists fled the mainland after their defeat by Communist troops.