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It's Time to 'Get Tough on Taiwan'
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Beijing has to send tougher warnings to the Taiwan authorities as the situation across the Taiwan Straits has entered a "highly dangerous period", President Hu Jintao told his US counterpart George W. Bush yesterday.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the annual economic leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Australia.

"This year and next year are going to be a highly dangerous period for the situation in the Taiwan Straits," Hu said.

Regardless of warnings from different quarters, the island authorities have flagrantly pursued secessionist activities, such as proposing a "referendum on UN membership" and "seeking to join the UN under the name of Taiwan".

"We must issue harsher warnings to the Taiwan authorities that any secessionist attempt aimed at 'Taiwan independence' in any form will be doomed," Hu said.

Bush said Washington firmly adheres to the one-China policy, observes the three US-China joint communiques and opposes any unilateral act to change the status quo across the Taiwan Straits.

The US fully understands China's concerns on the issue, he said.

On Taiwan's "referendum on UN membership", Bush said US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte had promptly and clearly stated the US government's opposition to the move by the Taiwan authorities.

In an interview with Hong Kong's Phoenix TV, Negroponte called the referendum attempt a "mistake" and "a step toward a declaration of 'Taiwan independence' and toward an alteration of the status quo".

The US will continue to pay attention to the issue and maintain close communication with China regarding the matter, he added.

During the one-and-half-hour meeting, the two sides exchanged views on issues ranging from trade and global climate change to the Iran nuclear issue and the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Hu said that it has been proved that China and the United States are joint stakeholders in global affairs and cooperate constructively.

He described the talks as "candid and friendly", saying both sides expressed the desire to work toward further development of commercial ties.

Hu said it is natural for the two sides to encounter some commercial disputes as Sino-US trade has been growing fast; and reiterated the importance China attaches to safety and quality of goods made in the country.

Hu said China follows a highly responsible approach toward product safety and is making every effort to ensure quality.

Bush said he appreciated China's efforts, adding that the US is opposed to trade protectionism and should not set obstacles to bilateral trade.

After the meeting, Bush said he and his family would attend the 2008 Beijing Olympics at Hu's invitation, which was extended during yesterday's talks.

Bush, who last visited China in 2005, said he had eagerly accepted the offer.

"He extended an invitation to me, Laura and our family to come to the Olympics, and, of course, I was anxious to accept," Bush said.

(China Daily September 7 2007)

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