China threatens to invade Taiwan unless talks start

China upped the stakes in its stand-off with Taiwan yesterday by threatening to invade the island unless talks start soon on reunification.

China upped the stakes in its stand-off with Taiwan yesterday by threatening to invade the island unless talks start soon on reunification.

The ultimatum came as campaigning for Taiwan's presidential elections on 18 March moved into full swing. It was clearly aimed at influencing voters, and at warning the world that China is deadly serious in its intentions to recover the island, which it considers a renegade province.

If Taiwan indefinitely delays negotiations on reunification, Peking will have no choice but to use "all drastic measures possible, including military force", China's state council - cabinet - said. Previously, it had threatened military action only in the event of a declaration of independence or a foreign invasion of the island.

"Peking is making its position clear. It wants talks with Taiwan and it wants them as soon as the presidential elections are over. It doesn't want any more waiting," a Western diplomat in Peking said.

China's Communist government has never relinquished its claim to Taiwan, which split from the mainland at the end of a civil war 51 years ago. While the Taiwanese government also supports unification once the mainland becomes more democratic, there is a growing pro-independence movement which has alarmed Peking. Efforts in the United States to increase military support for the island have angered China and remain a potential flashpoint.

The statements were carried in the first "white paper" on Taiwan issued since 1993. The state council also said Taiwan's insistence that China must embrace Western-style democracy before reunification was an "excuse" and accused it of dragging its feet over any degree of rapprochement.

To underline the threat of force, the Hong Kong media reported that China's President, Jiang Zemin, was in southern China touring military bases that would contribute to any invasion force of the island.

Since the return of Hong Kong in 1997, and particularly since Macau returned to Chinese sovereignty in December, Peking has been pushing harder and harder for political negotiations with Taiwan. But the latter has been prepared to discuss only practical issues such as fishing rights. China blames President Lee Teng-hui for the impasse.

"Lee Teng-hui has become the general representative of Taiwan's separatist forces, a saboteur of the stability of the Taiwan Strait, a stumbling block preventing the development of relations between China and the United States and a trouble-maker for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region," the white paper said.

In 1996, China menaced Taiwan with war games in the run-up to its presidential elections after Washington approved a visa for Mr Lee to visit the US. This time, Peking has stayed neutral towards the three leading candidates. But China's ambassador to Washington, Li Zhaoxing, has warned that there will be worse consequences than four years ago if the US bolsters military support for the island.

The US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott, spent much of his two days of talks in Peking last week calling for "the highest possible degree of restraint, caution, prudence on everybody's part". Chinese officials took every opportunity to remind him that Taiwan would reunify with the mainland.

Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin