The chances of Beijing using military force to settle the Taiwan question may be heightened if Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian moves on to his call for a referendum on Taiwan's future, a senior military source warned Tuesday.
Although the Chinese Government remains firm in adhering to peaceful reunification and is doing its utmost to achieve that objective, rampant pro-independence activities on the island are threatening to undermine conditions for the realization of the goal, the source said.
The high-level military source who preferred not to be identified said Chen's recent provocative and controversial moves especially underscore the need for the mainland to proceed with military preparations as a backup to encourage further work to bring about a peaceful reunification.
"We must not delude ourselves that the separatists will abandon their pro-independence pursuit overnight,'' said the well-placed source.
"If we want to strive for peace, we have to be fully prepared for military action.''
Beijing proposes to settle the Taiwan question through peaceful means but, at the same time, will not renounce the use of force if necessary to deter any separatist move, insisting that Taiwan choosing independence is tantamount to choosing war.
The source said people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits are Chinese and that achieving peaceful reunification is their common aspiration.
But there is a growing possibility that "peace will have to be safeguarded and won through the use of force'' if separatist forces continue to stir up tensions in cross-Straits ties by resorting to radical pro-independence moves, the military source said.
He noted that the Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China and will be solved sooner or later.
"But it should also be pointed out that the resolution to the Taiwan question cannot be postponed indefinitely,'' the source said.
"We have enough confidence and determination to settle the question,'' he added.
The source stressed that the Taiwan question is closely related to the country's national security.
"Both development and security are extremely significant to China's overall situation, but if there is no security, development will be out of the question,'' he said.
Meanwhile, a military researcher with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) University of National Defense said the mainland has been exerting maximum military restraint to demonstrate its sincerity in seeking a peaceful settlement to the Taiwan question.
(China Daily August 6, 2002)