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Threat to hit Shanghai bares Taiwan's splittist motive
Updated: 2004-09-29 14:01

Beijing on Wednesday accused Taiwan "Premier" Yu Shyi-kun of clamoring for war with threats to fire missiles at Shanghai if the People's Liberation Army (PLA) attacks the island.

Yu last week defended plans to buy T$610.8 billion (US$18.2 billion) worth of weapons from the United States, saying Taiwan needed a counter-strike capability to hit China's financial center of Shanghai with missiles if the PLA attacked Taipei, and the southern city of Kaohsiung.

"Yu Shyi-kun's remarks are a serious provocation and clamoring for war," Li Weiyi, spokesman for the policymaking Taiwan Affairs Office, told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

"For the Chinese people, there is nothing more important, more sacred than safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Li said.

"Any person, any force using whatever methods to attempt to seek Taiwan independence and make enemies with 1.3 billion Chinese people is doomed to failure," he said.

By arming itself, the island was seeking nationhood, he said.

Taiwan's weapons package is made up of $4.3 billion for Patriot Advanced-Capability 3 missile defenses, $12.3 billion for eight diesel-electric submarines and $1.6 billion for 12 P-3C Orion submarine-hunting aircraft.

Thousands of protesters marched through Taipei on Saturday, urging their government to scrap the weapons package they said would trigger an arms race and squeeze social welfare.

In a speech before the protest, Yu said: "If you attack me with 100 missiles, I will at least attack you with 50. If you attack Taipei and Kaohsiung, I will attack Shanghai.

"If we have such counter-strike capability today, Taiwan is safe," he said defending the arms deal.

Taiwan's opposition parties, which hold a slim majority in the parliament, said the island could not afford the weapons and the money should be spent on social welfare or education.

The package has come under growing criticism in Taiwan, with opponents charging that the weapons are too costly or take too long to deploy to be an effective defense.

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