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Taipei Given Stern Warning
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Beijing yesterday issued a stern warning to Taipei on its push for United Nations membership, saying that it has made "necessary preparations" for dealing with any "serious situation".

The strongly-worded statement by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council followed a rally organized by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian calling for a referendum to join the UN under the name of Taiwan - a move that is considered a step toward "formal independence".

During the rally on Saturday, Chen tried to feverishly whip up support for his "referendum" plan on the island's entry to the UN, and claimed that "Taiwan is a sovereign state".

The Taiwan Affairs Office said in the statement that the situation at the rally showed that Chen's "referendum" plan has failed to win the support of the masses.

"We are keeping a close watch over developments on the other side of the Straits and have made necessary preparations to cope with any serious situation," the statement said.

Attempts by the Taiwan authorities to join the UN have twice been rebuffed in the last two months even as Chen has been pushing his plan to hold a "referendum" in Taiwan on its entry to the UN.

"The warning shows the mainland's firm determination to safeguard national unity," said Zhu Weidong with the Institute of Taiwan Studies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Also yesterday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu urged the United States to cancel its proposed arms sales to Taiwan immediately and stop sending any "wrong signal" to secessionist forces on the island, Xinhua reported.

The Pentagon announced tentative plans last week to sell surplus P-3C Orion submarine-hunting aircraft and air-defense missiles to Taiwan.

(China Daily September 17, 2007)

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