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China Military Warns U.S. on Taiwan

February 4, 2000

BEIJING (AP) _ Angry with the U.S. Congress for voting to strengthen military ties with Taiwan, the Chinese armed forces on Friday warned Washington not to confuse China with Yugoslavia and Taiwan with Kosovo.

A commentary in the newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army said the House’s approval of the bill sends ``an extremely dangerous signal.″

The bill ``has exposed a plot by some American forces to use military force to thwart China’s ambitions for unification,″ the Liberation Army Daily said. ``This doubtlessly is playing with fire.″

China and Taiwan separated 50 years ago amid civil war. Beijing claims the island as a rebel province and threatens to retake it, by force if necessary. The politically influential army sees itself as the ultimate protector of China’s sovereignty claims.

``On major principals such as defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Chinese government has never compromised. Its words have always counted,″ the newspaper said.

``China is not Yugoslavia and Taiwan is not Kosovo,″ the commentary added.

The argument recalls China’s strong opposition to NATO’s war with Yugoslavia to stop the crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. With restive minority regions of its own as well as its claim to Taiwan, China saw NATO’s attack without explicit U.N. approval as a dangerous precedent.

The bill passed by the House on Tuesday would formalize contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan militaries, bring more Taiwanese to U.S. military academies and require the Pentagon to report annually on threats to Taiwan. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, and the Clinton administration has warned of a possible veto.

Taiwan has always been the thorniest of problems in relations. Washington backed Taiwan’s nationalists for decades against the communists. When it switched diplomatic relations to Beijing in 1979, Washington acknowledged China’s sovereignty claim to Taiwan. But by law, the United States must aid Taiwan’s defense.

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