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Beijing Objects to Taiwan Plans for Using Name - 2004-09-15

China has lashed out at Taiwan after its leaders proposed using the name "Taiwan" more often than the island's official name - the Republic of China. The condemnation is the latest in what critics say is a renewed campaign by the mainland to isolate the self-governed island.

China's leaders in Beijing have been vowing to retake Taiwan since the Nationalist government fled there after losing a civil war to Communist forces in 1949.

Beijing has continuously warned its forces will attack if Taiwan's leaders formally declare independence. The rhetoric was stepped up when Chinese leaders reacted to a proposal by the Taiwanese to start referring to their island as "Taiwan" more often than by its official name, which is "Republic of China."

Zhang Mingqing, a spokesman for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, accused Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian of working to establish a separate identity for the island, which China considers a renegade province.

"This abbreviation exposes once again Chen Shui-bian's splittist plot for Taiwan's independence," he said.

Taiwan's foreign ministry has proposed using the name Taiwan more often in order to prevent it from being mistaken for the People's Republic of China.

In his remarks Wednesday, the Chinese spokesman stopped short of threatening an attack, but said China was prepared to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity "at all cost" if Mr. Chen proceeds with his plans.

Because China considers Taiwan a part of its territory, Beijing routinely opposes any attempt by the island to conduct its own foreign affairs.

Tensions rose earlier this week, when Taiwan accused Beijing of insulting the Taiwanese president's wife, by pressuring the International Paralympic Committee to revoke her status as the leader of the Taiwan delegation to this year's Paralympic games in Greece.

On Tuesday, Taiwan criticized China for blocking plans for Chen Shui-bian to hold a video teleconference with journalists at the United Nations. Mr. Chen's speech was to center on Taiwan's bid for U.N. membership.