China Warns Taiwan Against Independence

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 1:30 PM

BEIJING -- China's president condemned Taiwanese moves toward independence Tuesday in unusually strong remarks delivered the same day that Beijing announced a nearly 18 percent boost in military spending.

President Hu Jintao Hu's comments came just weeks before Taiwan's presidential election, breaking with the recent practice of top Chinese leaders to soft-pedal nationalist sentiment to avoid alienating Taiwanese voters.

The decision to speak out suggest Beijing's patience is being sorely tested by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's attempts to strengthen the island's de-facto independence.

"Taiwan independence activities constitute the biggest menace to national sovereignty and territorial integrity ... and the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," Hu said in a lengthy address to members of a government advisory body, parts of which were shown on state television's main evening news report.

"Such activities will get nowhere and are doomed to fail," Hu said.

Beijing is particularly anxious about a referendum accompanying Taiwan's March 22 presidential election. It will ask voters if they favor joining the United Nations under the name Taiwan, which China views as a step toward legal independence. Beijing has said it would squelch any such attempt with military force.

"If the Chen Shui-bian authorities should stubbornly continue down the path, they will surely pay a dear price," Jiang Enzhu, the spokesman for the ceremonial legislature, the National People's Congress, told reporters at an earlier news conference.

Jiang did not elaborate, other than saying the situation across the Taiwan Strait was "grim and complex."

The 17.6 percent increase in military spending this year to $58.76 billion is the 18th double-digit percentage rise in 19 years _ an investment that has ramped up the ability of the People's Liberation Army to project power and drawn calls from the U.S. and Japan for an explanation of the buildup.

Among the PLA's primary missions is enforcing China's claim to Taiwan, a democratically ruled island that split with Beijing in a civil war a half-century ago.

Hours before China announced the spending increase, the U.S. Defense Department released an annual assessment of China's military, citing its improving space program, the launching of hacker attacks on foreign computer networks and a growing arsenal of missiles arrayed against Taiwan.

"China's expanding and improving military capabilities are changing East Asian military balances," the Pentagon report said.

Jiang, the legislative spokesman, and the Foreign Ministry defended the higher military spending in separate news conferences, saying China's intentions are not aggressive.

"We do not seek expansion. The purpose is to safeguard our sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

Jiang said the extra money was needed to cover higher oil prices and boost salaries of the 2.3 million-member military. China's military budget accounted for 7.2 percent of government spending, far lower than U.S. military spending of 16.6 percent, Jiang said.

The Bush administration has proposed a $515 billion budget for the Pentagon's core programs for 2009 _ about 17 percent of the government's proposed $3 trillion budget. The figure does not include war costs.

China's higher military budget is all but certain to be approved during the two-week session of the National People's Congress.

Also on the legislature's agenda are a restructuring of government agencies and the announcement of senior Cabinet appointments, decisions already made by the Communist Party leadership for the party-controlled congress to publicly approve.

Among expected appointments at the congress, Hu will be given a second five-year term as president, a largely ceremonial post that follows his reappointment as party general secretary in the fall. His likely successor, Xi Jinping, is expected to be given the vice presidency, and Beijing's former mayor, Wang Qishan, is slated to become a vice premier overseeing trade and finance.

The new government faces a tough outlook. Years of fast economic growth have fueled persistent inflation, led by a sharp jump in food prices and higher housing costs that are squeezing the ordinary Chinese.

Amid such friction, the military remains politically influential and popular, often being used to deal with natural disasters such as widespread snowstorms last month. Robust budgets have helped transform the military from a peasant guerrilla army into a far better equipped and more professional fighting force. ... 77709.html

Just remember Kosovo and all of it's implications .... Bill Clinton and the US Government is way to out of control... get ready for Mexifornia, Texico, Mexizona and so on to do the same. We have set stuff into motion and it will come back to haunt us

George Bush threw grease onto the fire recognizing Kosovo as an Independant country