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100 Chinese jets seen heading towards Taiwan (two stories)
Breaking News 8.40 am Chinese jets fly towards Taiwan
HONGKONG -- Large numbers of Chinese fighter jets were seen heading in the direction of Taiwan, following the island's election of pro-independence advocate Chen Shui-bian, a Hongkong newspaper reported on Monday.
The South China Morning Post quoted an unidentified witness in the southern town of Huizhou, in Guangdong province, as saying about 100 jets had flown over the town on Sunday.
"Every two or three minutes, a fighter jet went over our heads. This lasted for four hours non-stop," the witness was quoted by the newspaper.
The planes were heading north eastwards, towards China's Fujian province and Taiwan, which lies across the Taiwan Strait from Fujian.
The fighters were a mixture of modern jets and older models, the witness said.
"There used to be planes flying around but local people say they have never seen that many," the witness added. -- AFP
China Accepts Chen's Win But Plans to Watch Closely
By Cindy Sui
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday , March 19, 2000 ; A28
BEIJING, March 18 China accepted the victory of a pro-independence candidate in Taiwan's presidential race tonight, but said it will watch closely Chen Shui-bian's actions "and where he will lead cross-strait relations."
"We should listen to what the new leader in Taiwan says and watch what he does," said a statement issued by the government's Taiwan Affairs Office, which also reiterated Beijing's stance that the election "will not change the status of Taiwan as a part of China."
Chen, of the Democratic Progressive Party, defeated Nationalist Vice President Lien Chan and populist independent James Soong with 39 percent of the vote as Taiwanese voters brushed aside Beijing's threats that it might attack the island if Chen was elected.
Chen had irked China by openly advocating independence for Taiwan, which Beijing has long considered a renegade province. China's Nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's Communists.
China indicated today that it would not tolerate any move by Chen to push for sovereignty, saying, "Taiwan independence in whatever form will never be allowed." But Beijing left open a door for dialogue.
"We are willing to exchange views on cross-straits relations and peaceful reunification with all parties, organizations and personages in Taiwan who favor the 'one China' principle," the government said.
The tone of today's statement contrasted sharply with Chinese officials' saber-rattling in the run-up to the island's second direct presidential election. Just three days ago, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji issued a stern warning to Taiwanese voters, saying if they elected Chen, they would not get a second chance to regret it. As late as today, two Beijing-funded newspapers in Hong Kong as well as the People's Liberation Daily ran photographs and stories implying China was preparing for a military assault against Taiwan.
The Wen Wei Po newspaper reported China's military was on high alert. "If Chen Shui-bian takes the seat [of power], turbulence is inevitable," the paper said. "It will increase the likelihood of our using force to solve the Taiwan question."
The Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported the mainland city of Fuzhou, which faces Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait, was scheduled to restrict air traffic for five days to make way for a large number of military aircraft.
The paper also reported that the city would soon conduct large-scale air-raid drills and that officials had allocated $7.2 million to connect the city's many bomb shelters and underground tunnels.
And the People's Liberation Daily ran a front-page photo of several partially submerged tanks plying the waters off China's coast. The caption said: "A regiment in the Nanjing Military District is organizing military exercises in preparation for real war conditions and actively preparing for a military struggle. The tanks in the picture are amphibious tanks capable of launching a takeover of land."
In Taiwan's first direct presidential election in 1996, Beijing fired missiles near Taiwan in a failed attempt to dissuade voters from choosing its most disliked candidate, Lee Teng-hui, the current president. Chinese academics closely linked to the government said the near future will be tense and will depend largely on what tone Chen sets.
"If he puts the stability and prosperity of the 22 million Taiwanese people as a priority, then cross-straits relations can develop after an initial period of difficulty. There will be hope. But if he won't change his pro-independence campaign stance, then it could be disastrous," said Guo Zhenyuan, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.
Before the election, Chen had softened his independence calls, saying sovereignty would only be declared if China attacked. Today, he said he wanted to meet with President Jiang Zemin and other Chinese leaders to repair misunderstandings.
But Huang Jiashu, an academic at the People's University, said such a meeting would be impossible until Chen embraced the one China principle.
-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), March 20, 2000