Washington Post



China Warns Taiwan Military Action Possible

Associated Press
Wednesday, August 7, 2002

BEIJING, Aug. 7 (Wednesday) -- Taiwan faces a growing possibility of military action by China if "radical pro-independence moves" continue on the island, the Chinese government warned today through its state-run media.

There is a growing possibility that "peace will have to be safeguarded and won through the use of force," an article in the China Daily newspaper said, quoting what it called a "senior military source."

"If we want to strive for peace, we have to be fully prepared for military action," the source was quoted as saying.

The article came one day after Taiwan's leader backed away from his assertion that Taiwan and China are separate countries, and opted for a more opaque claim that both sides are "sovereign" with "parity." In addition, the Taiwanese government announced today that it had canceled military exercises scheduled for next week in a bid to ease tensions with Beijing.

The change in Taiwan's stance was an apparent attempt to quiet an uproar at home and in China, where many fear Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has been recklessly provoking Beijing in a series of bold speeches in recent weeks.

Chen's most controversial comment came Saturday when he told a group of pro-independence supporters that there were different countries "on each side" of the Taiwan Strait.

Suggestions that Taiwan is a separate country angers Chinese leaders, who contend that the self-governed island is part of "one China."