Monday, March 14, 2005

China Threat to Attack Taiwan Alarms Asia

By JOSEPH COLEMAN, The Associated Press, March 14, 2005

TOKYO - China's threat Monday to oppose Taiwanese independence with military force triggered a call for peaceful dialogue from Japan and a discussion of Australia's treaty obligations should a war break out. But Russia and Pakistan supported Beijing's new legislation.

"I want the two sides to work hard toward a peaceful solution, so there will not be any negative impact," said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose government recently declared a diplomatic resolution of the Taiwan dispute as a strategic objective with the United States. China's parliament passed a law Monday authorizing an attack to stop Taiwan from pursuing formal independence, a day after President Hu Jintao told the Chinese military to be prepared for war. The ceremonial National People's Congress approved the legislation over U.S. calls for restraint and warnings by Taiwan that it would damage regional stability and fragile ties between Beijing and Taipei.

An outbreak of hostilities would be a severe blow to stability in East Asia, possibly prompting a response from the United States - which has some 50,000 troops in Japan and 35,000 in South Korea - to defend Taiwan. Such a conflict could pin top U.S. allies in the area such as Japan and Australia between treaty obligations to Washington and reluctance to alienate China, which is assuming a growing political and economic role in the region.----------------------

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