Saturday, March 05, 2005

China plays down Taiwan war threat

By Mure Dickie and Richard McGregor, The Financial Times, March 4, 2005

BEIJING, Saturday, March 5 - Hu Jintao, China's Communist Party chief, took a militant stance on Friday against what he called "secessionist forces" in Taiwan, but also cited "new and positive factors" that could reduce cross-strait tensions.

His comments came as China's national legislature prepared to consider a measure that would likely mandate a military response if Taiwan, which is governed independently, formally seceded from mainland China. The measure is the culmination of a show of resolve by Mr. Hu after he became China's military leader late last year. Delivering the main opening address to the legislature, called the National People's Congress, on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao set an economic growth target of 8 percent, down from the 9.5 percent growth recorded in 2004. He also vowed to eliminate the main tax imposed on China's peasantry for the first time in two millenniums.

The government also announced that it would raise spending on China's rapidly modernizing military by 12.6 percent in 2005, continuing a long streak of double-digit increases in outlays for military personnel and arms.-------------------

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