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Taiwan Lawmakers Begin Historic Vote that Could Lead to Declaration of Independence - 2003-11-27

Taiwan's Parliament has begun voting on legislation that China has warned could lead to war.

The legislation would allow referendums to be held on issues such as changing Taiwan's name and constitution.

Members of Parliament were voting clause by clause to determine the final contents of the legislation. The process began in the afternoon and looked set to go well into the night.

China considers Taiwan its territory. Beijing has warned that any moves toward independence, including the referendum legislation, could trigger a war.

Politics Professor Philip Yang at the National Taiwan University in Taipei says there is a growing question of what will constitute a reason for China to attack.

"It is a bargaining process among Beijing, Taipei - and if you want to add Washington - about where is the red line and who has the authority to define the red line," he said.

The United States, which has strong trade ties with both China and Taiwan, has urged the two governments to avoid a confrontation.