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US Arms Sales Harm Straits Peace

Beijing on Friday accused Taipei of resisting reunification with a military build-up and urged Washington to immediately stop arms sales to the island province.

Li Weiyi, spokesman with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Taiwan's attempt to count on military confrontation to pursue formal "independence" is sabotaging cross-Straits peace and stability.

He made the remarks as a Taiwan delegation led by "parliament speaker" Wang Jin-pyng is in the US to determine the fate of a huge arms deal.

The group is expected to meet Pentagon officials and discuss a 610 billion Taiwan dollars (US$18.2 billion) weapons package that includes anti-missile systems, submarines and anti-submarine aircraft.

Li told a regular news conference in Beijing that the military build-up will only end up undermining the island's economic development as well as the fundamental interests of Taiwan compatriots.

The spokesman urged Washington to stick to the one-China policy and honor its commitment in the three Sino-US communiques.

"We have always been opposed to any official contact and military cooperation between Taiwan and the United States," he said. "And we hope the US side can pay heed to our calls to avoid any damage to Sino-US relations."

As Taiwan's biggest arms supplier, the United States has urged the island to beef up its defence against the mainland, citing Beijing's growing military power.

A US Defence Department report recently even proposed the island consider development of a missile that could strike civilian targets on the mainland.

Those targets could include the massive Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River in central China, or the 468-metre-high Oriental Pearl TV tower in Shanghai.

At the news briefing, Li also reiterated the mainland's long-standing policy of encouraging economic and cultural exchanges across the Straits.

"But we don't welcome a small number of people who openly support 'Taiwan independence' while reaping economic benefits on the mainland, whether they are from the economic or cultural circle," he told reporters.

His comments came amid growing anger among mainland people over a handful of pro-independence business investors and artists from Taiwan.

On May 31, the overseas edition of People's Daily ran a front-page commentary sharply criticizing Hsu Wen-lung, founder of Taiwan's Chi Mei Group, for supporting pro-independence politicians including Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.

On June 12, Taiwan pop diva Chang Hui-mei cancelled a planned performance in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, because of criticism and protests by some netizens.

Chang, who sang Taiwan's "national anthem" at the inauguration of Chen four years ago, has expressed her understanding of the feelings of the mainland netizens.

Su Chi, former chairman of Taiwan's "mainland affairs council," told in Fuzhou that such incidents should not be politicized because people-to-people exchanges have greatly benefited the development of cross-Straits ties.

(China Daily June 19, 2004)

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Taiwan Issues
Shanghai Communique 1972-2002
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