China's Hu warns against Taiwan independence

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BEIJING, Oct 15 (Reuters) Chinese President Hu Jintao warned self-ruled Taiwan today against formally declaring independence and vowed to woo the island back to the fold through peaceful means.

''We are willing to make every effort with utmost sincerity to achieve peaceful reunification of the two sides, and will never allow anyone to separate Taiwan from the motherland in any name or by any means,'' Hu said in prepared remarks to the opening of the Communist Party's 17th Congress.

Hu has said the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics would be a period of ''high danger'' in the Taiwan Strait, seen as one of Asia's most dangerous flashpoints.

Taiwan plans to hold a referendum next year on whether to seek to join the United Nations, ignoring warnings from the United States and China. Even if it passes, however, the bid is doomed because China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since their split in 1949 amid civil war and vowed to use force if the democratic island formally declares independence.

Reuters CS VP0645

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