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Taiwan Calls on Beijing to Stop Military Threats - 2003-10-10

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian says the island will never be reunited with communist China by force and he called on Beijing to drop its military threats. Mr. Chen, speaking on Taiwan's national day, also said negotiations on relations will not resume if China keeps insisting his government first accept the so-called "one-China" principle.

President Chen Shui-bian called on Taiwanese citizens to believe in themselves and remain strong in the face of Taiwan's ongoing struggle with China.

President Chen said there is no reason the island should feel compelled to accept Beijing's "one-China" principle, and that any future cooperation with China depends on whether Beijing drops its threats of using force against Taiwan to reunite it with the mainland.

Mr. Chen's words are unlikely to sway Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue made it clear once again that the "one China" principle is the bedrock of Beijing's policy toward Taiwan.

"There's only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China," she said. "And this has been acknowledged by the majority of countries in the world."

But Taiwan President Chen says the door to peace can only be opened if China ends its threats and stops trying to isolate the island.

Just 100 kilometers across the Taiwan Strait from the mainland, Taiwan is isolated geographically and diplomatically. China's position as a global power has helped it block Taiwan from joining key international organizations, including the United Nations.

President Chen's tough stance toward Beijing helped him win Taiwan's 1999 presidential election. Analysts say Mr. Chen is likely to suggest Taiwan's opposition is too friendly with China in the run-up to the next election in March.

Mr. Chen was speaking at a rally Friday - Taiwan's National Day. The holiday marks the birth of modern China 92 years ago, before Taiwan broke away from the mainland in 1949 after the Communists defeated the Nationalists in a civil war.