China accuses U.S. of lauding Taiwan independence forces seekers
BEIJING, Reuters Tuesday, June 1, 2004, 12:00 am TWN
China accused the United States of damaging relations across the Taiwan Strait by encouraging independence seekers and repeated its threat to use force to seize the island if it drags its feet on reunification.
Xinhua news agency said on Sunday that U.S. President George W. Bush had reiterated his commitment to Beijing's "one China" policy in a telephone call with Chinese President and Communist Party boss Hu Jintao.
But in a separate commentary, it blamed the United States for the deteriorating relations between China and Taiwan.
China considers self-ruled Taiwan and the mainland part of a single China — the one China policy — but the two sides have been ideological foes since their split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
"Due to the support and connivance of the United States, Taiwan authorities have gone further down the road toward 'independence' and the United States is responsible for the current worsening situation across the Taiwan Straits," it said.
"Just because a handful of people inside and outside the island are still seeking 'Taiwan independence', China cannot make a commitment to renouncing the use of force for realizing national reunification and has had to make necessary and limited military deployment."
The accusation came after a stopover in the United States en route to Central America by Vice President Annette Lu, reviled by Beijing but re-elected to a second term in March with independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian.
It also came in the wake of a Pentagon report saying China had expanded its military buildup last year with more sophisticated missiles, satellite-disrupting lasers and underground facilities, all aimed, in large part, to win a possible conflict with Taiwan.
Lu stopped in Las Vegas for three days from May 28 on her way to visit some of Taiwan's few diplomatic allies in Central America. She returns via San Francisco in early June.
The United States switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei in 1979. But the Taiwan Relations Act of the same year obliges Washington to supply weapons powerful enough for Taiwan "to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability" against a Chinese attack.
The United States is Taiwan's biggest arms supplier.
A senior U.S. defence official said on Friday, when the Pentagon report was released, China's focus on preparing for conflict in the Taiwan Strait "raises serious doubts over Beijing's declared policy of seeking peaceful reunification".
China also has about 500 short-range missiles deployed in the south aimed at Taiwan.
The Xinhua article was pegged to similar comments last month by an unidentified U.S. official who said China's military buildup was a threat to peace in the region, and sought to define the legal status of Taiwan.
"If the United States really wants to help maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, it should not have made irresponsible remarks on China's military deployment...as an excuse to keep selling advanced weapons to Taiwan," it said.
"Any attempt to separate Taiwan from China is doomed to fail and Taiwan will eventually be reunited with its motherland. The United States should sober-mindedly understand this."