Premier Zhu Firm on Taiwan Issue
Speaking at a packed press conference, Premier Zhu Rongji Wednesday issued one in a series of strong-worded warnings from the Chinese Government, saying that no form of Taiwan independence will be tolerated.

"We must make it crystal clear, no matter who comes into power in Taiwan in the election, we won't allow the 'independence of Taiwan' to happen," Zhu told more than 500 journalists from China and other countries.

"This is the bottom line of the Chinese Government on the Taiwan issue," he said.

This weekend Taiwan people will vote for new leadership to replace "president" Lee Teng-hui.

The premier also demanded the United States cease hostilities towards China over Taiwan.

Recent tension across the Taiwan Straits became the hottest topic at Wednesday's 90-minute press conference.

"We will support whoever supports the one-China principle, we can hold negotiations with them on any subject," said Zhu.

An emotional Zhu also advised Taiwan voters not to act on impulse. He called for their vigilance against pro-independence forces.

"We believe in the political wisdom of the people of Taiwan and we trust that our Taiwan compatriots will make the right historical choice," Zhu said.

Reiterating the central government's policies of "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems," Zhu said that China will "absolutely" not renounce the option of force to settle the Taiwan issue.

"The Chinese people are ready to shed blood and sacrifice their lives to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the motherland," he said.

China issued a white paper on Taiwan last month, attracting widespread international attention.

Zhu attributed certain reactions to the white paper to the mentality of "some people in a certain country" to have taken China as a potential enemy and have taken Taiwan as an unsinkable aircraft carrier to use against China.

Speaking fluent English, Zhu said: "There must be a shift from threat to dialogue across the Pacific Ocean."

He stressed the last two words in his sentence after quoting a remark made by US President Bill Clinton on March 12 at Johns Hopkins University that "there must be a shift from threat to dialogue across the Taiwan Straits. "Turning back to foreign affairs, Zhu echoed other Chinese Government statements by urging the US Congress to grant China Permanent Normal Trade Relations.

Noting the World Trade Organization accession agreement signed between China and the United States in November as a solemn governmental agreement, Zhu said both the US and Chinese Government leaders must make sure their respective congresses pass the crucial follow-up - normal trade status.