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First created :
26 July 2003 1634 hrs (SST) 0834 hrs (GMT)
Last modified :
26 July 2003 1634 hrs (SST) 0834 hrs (GMT)

China warns Taiwan: 'No referenda or face escalating tensions' 

China on Saturday delivers a strong warning to Taiwan that any attempt to introduce referenda would escalate tensions between them, according to reports on Saturday.

Two senior Chinese officials made the warning while visiting Washington earlier this week. They were in the US capital just ahead of Chiou I-jen, a top aide to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian, who was in the US for high-level talks on issues believed to include the referendum plan, according to the United Daily News.


The visit was confirmed by US Department of State deputy spokesman Philip Reeker, the paper said.

Chen Yunlin, director of China's cabinet-level Taiwan Affairs Office, and his deputy Zhou Mingwei met with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly during the trip.

Chen and Zhou told the United States that President Chen's intention to hold a referendum was a provocative step towards "progressive independence for Taiwan". This would cross China's "red line" of tolerance and cause regional tensions, the report said.

Taiwan's government is planning to hold a landmark referendum to decide whether a controversial half-completed nuclear power plant should be scrapped, coinciding with the presidential elections in March next year.

The island also plans to hold a referendum to show the Taiwanese people's eagerness to join the World Health Organization which ousted Taipei in 1972
under pressure from Beijing.

The United States has expressed concern over the plan in view of Chinese fears that introducing referenda could eventually lead to a vote on whether the
island should declare independence or reunify with China.

China has repeatedly warned Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory, that it would risk an attack if it went ahead with a referendum on the island's future.

On Friday, President Chen reiterated that the there would be no referendum on independence or reunification.

 Related Story

Delegation from Taiwan's ruling party in US to garner support for referendum: analysts

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