China ready for "grave" Taiwan scenarios

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BEIJING, Oct 3 (Reuters) China cannot compromise on its claim to Taiwan and is ready for ''grave'' scenarios, a top adviser said, days after the island's ruling party resolved to recommend a new constitution, with implications of independence from China.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) approved the controversial ''Normal Country Resolution'' on Sunday, calling for a new constitution for Taiwan as an independent sovereign state to replace its current one, which still binds the two sides.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and pledged to bring the democratic island's 23 million people under its rule, by force if necessary.

''The essence of the resolution is to pursue de jure Taiwan independence,'' wrote Yu Keli, a prominent Taiwan expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), in a signed commentary run by the official Xinhua news agency today.

''The Taiwan issue concerns China's core interests and the mainland does not have any room for compromise,'' Yu wrote. CASS is the government's top think tank.

An official from China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office said yesterday independence plans were ''doomed to fail'' because the claim that Taiwan is a sovereign state is a lie.

He appealed to DPP members to abandon ''separatist'' beliefs so as not to bring ''disaster'' to the Taiwanese people, but stopped short of threatening war.

The DPP resolution reinforces its long-standing goals of the formal independence of the island and a separate Taiwan identity, although the final version has been toned down from the original draft in order not to estrange moderate voters.

Some critics argue the resolution and a slew of independence moves taken by President Chen Shui-bian recently are aimed at helping the DPP stay in power in elections set for March 2008, but Yu said the manoeuvring worried Beijing.

''It is absolutely not a fake issue (brought up) with an eye on next year's elections. Rather, it is a carefully planned trick with the aim of de jure independence,'' he wrote.

''We will not sit idle in the case of Taiwan being separated from the mainland in any way and have made well-considered preparations to thwart any Taiwan independence adventures.'' Chen has also planned a referendum to coincide with the presidential elections next March on Taiwan's UN membership bid, which has angered ally Washington.

Analysts say China is obliged by the 2005 Anti-Secession Law to react if the referendum is passed, but any decision will be tricky because it does not want to ruin the Summer Olympics, which Beijing will host in August next year.

REUTERS SKB BD1540

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