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PLA vows to crush Taiwan separatism
By Hu Xiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-02 08:45

Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan has warned that the country's army has the will and the strength to firmly crush any scheme for "Taiwan independence."

General Cao, who is also a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, issued the stark message at a ceremony to celebrate Army Day, the 77th anniversary of the foundation of the People's Liberation Army.

Chinese Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan proposes a toast at the grand reception to mark the 77th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army in the Great Hall of the People July 31, 2004. [newsphoto]
"China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is paramount. The will of the 1.3 billion Chinese people is not to be defied," he told a gathering late on Saturday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Cao's warning came just one day after a telephone conversation between President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart George W. Bush in which Hu said that the current situation across the Taiwan Straits is very sensitive and complicated and that the two sides should act resolutely against "the independence of Taiwan" and any adventurous attempts by separatist organizations.

China will exert its utmost efforts with its utmost sincerity to resolve the Taiwan question by peaceful means, but will never tolerate "the independence of Taiwan," Hu told Bush on Friday.

Hu reaffirmed China's opposition to US sales of sophisticated weapons to Taiwan.

Bush expressed his understanding of China's concern over the Taiwan question through the phone conversation and reiterated that the US would implement the one-China policy, and observe the Three Communiques and position of not supporting "Taiwan independence."

The US stance on the issue will never change, Bush promised.

The cross-Straits relations are becoming tense as Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian is taking steps to push for independence for the island since his re-election earlier this year.

With tensions rising, both sides have been conducting military manoeuvres this summer.

During his speech on Saturday, Cao stressed that to realize the strategic goal of modernization of China's national defence and armed forces remains a "long and uphill" journey.

"We will intensify our efforts in implementing the strategy of building stronger armed forces by relying on science and technology," said Cao.

"We will intensify military training in order to enhance our fighting capability in the information age."

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