PRC: Straits in ‘period of high danger’


BEIJING — A top Chinese official warned Friday that moves by Taiwan to assert its independent identity have taken relations into a “period of high danger.”

Speaking at a reception for Oct. 1 national day, Jia Qinglin said China remained committed to using peaceful means to unify with the self-ruled island it claims as its own territory.

However, he added that China would never accept formal independence for Taiwan and said recent moves by the island’s government were driving up tensions.

“Taiwan independence activities are extremely rampant, pushing the situation in the Taiwan Strait into a period of high danger,” Jia was quoted as saying by state television.

Jia, the Communist Party’s fourth-ranking official, heads the government’s main advisory body.

Tensions have flared over plans by Taiwan President Chen Shuibian to hold a referendum next month on whether to jettison its official title of “Republic of China” in favor of the independent sounding “Taiwan” in the island’s formal bid to join the United Nations.

China considers the move a step toward formal independence — something Beijing says it would use its 2.3 million-member armed forces to prevent.

Beijing earlier this month condemned a massive rally promoting the referendum, warning that it was now preparing for a “serious situation.”

Chen’s proposal has also been criticized by the United States, which is committed to ensuring the island has the means to protect itself, but which opposes moves by either Beijing or Taipei that upset the status quo between them.