China has turned up its rhetoric against Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, warning that his May 20 inauguration address walked a �dangerous road� towards independence for the island, which Beijing regards as a renegade province, RFA�s Mandarin service reports.

�Chen Shui-bian is on the road to independence. This is a very dangerous road,� Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Zhang Mingqing told a news conference in Beijing on Monday. �There will be no peace for Taiwan independence and there will be no stability for splittists.�

Asked if China would risk affecting its hosting of the Olympics in 2008 over a cross-Straits conflict, Zhang said: �If he doesn�t choose to rein in his horses, then our only choice is to pay whatever price is necessary to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.�

Zhang, who described the cross-Straits situation as �grim,� did not depart from a May 17 statement issued by the Taiwan Affairs Office of China�s cabinet, the State Council. �There is no fundamental change in our position on Taiwan... Chen Shui-bian must accept the One-China principle,� Zhang said. �We will completely annihilate the plot for Taiwan independence,� he said.

During his largely conciliatory inauguration speech, Chen refused to rule out eventual reunification with China and renewed a pledge made in 2000 not to seek independence or a referendum on independence in the coming years. At the news conference, Zhang was repeatedly asked about these elements of Chen�s speech, including by official mainland Chinese media, but largely ignored them, saying Chen�s actions were more important than his words.

�For such a faithless man, we do not care what he says. The key is what he does, which road he would choose,� he said. �He is riding near the edge of the cliff, and there is no sign that he is going to rein in his horse.�

The United States last week welcomed Chen�s speech as �responsible and constructive� for avoiding an immediate showdown with China and added that it created an opportunity for the two rivals to resume dialogue.

But China appeared unimpressed by the U.S. take on Chen�s speech. Zhang also slammed U.S. high-tech military sales to Taiwan as a violation of a 1982 Sino-U.S. joint communique in which Washington pledged to reduce the amount of weapons sold to the island. �U.S. arms sales to Taiwan seriously violate the 1982 Sino-U.S. joint communique,� Zhang said.

Taiwan on Monday said Beijing�s rhetoric would harm relations between the island and the mainland. �Any verbal threat would harm the feelings of the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,� government spokesman Chen Chi-mai told reporters, bemoaning China�s �old mentality� in interpreting the speech.

�The Chinese authorities should seek more sincerity and creativity in restoring mutual trust,� he said. The existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was a reality which could not be denied, he said.

Taiwan has been governed under the constitution of the Republic of China, an entity set up after Sun Yat-sen�s 1911 revolution toppled the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). The defeated Kuomintang (KMT) Nationalist government fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong�s Communists on the mainland.

Beijing has long viewed Taiwan as a province awaiting unification, and requires all its diplomatic partners to accept its �One-China Policy.� China has repeatedly threatened to use force should the island declare itself an independent state. #####


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