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China's Wen eyes peaceful unification with Taiwan

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, March 5 (Reuters) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will call for peaceful reunification with Taiwan and warn that China will never stand for the self-ruled island's formal independence, in a speech to be delivered to parliament tomorrow.

But Wen stops short of repeating long-standing threats to use force if necessary to reclaim the island, which China regards as a wayward province that must eventually return to the fold, according to excerpts of the speech seen by Reuters.

Wen also makes no direct mention of Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's decision to scrap the island's National Unification Council and its 15-year-old unification guidelines, a move Chinese President Hu Jintao has labeled a ''grave provocation''.

''It is the people's will for cross-Strait relations to develop in a direction of peace, stability and mutual benefit,'' Wen says.

''Anyone who vainly seeks to destroy this great trend will certainly fail.'' Wen also pledges to deepen cultural and economic exchanges between China and Taiwan, to protect the rights of Taiwan businessmen and to work to push transport links between the two sides, which split at the end of a civil war in 1949.

''The great task of the final and complete reunification of the motherland is the common wish of all Chinese people, and nobody can block it,'' Wen says.

REUTERS PM PM2149

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