China Directly Threatens
To Invade Taiwan
By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, keeping up a steady stream of threats in a bitter row over Taiwan's political status, said on Sunday its army does not rule out an invasion to crush any attempts by the island to declare independence.
The threat was splashed on the front page of Hong Kong's Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper with a picture of waves of amphibious vessels and vehicles making beach landings.
"Beijing: Will not renounce force to counter Taiwan independence," the banner headline screamed.
The newspaper quoted an unidentified military official as saying the "military measures would be taken only if there were no other alternatives."
"When peaceful reunification is hopeless and 'Taiwan independence' forces are splitting the motherland, we will not rule out the use of force to resolve the Taiwan problem" the official was quoted as saying.
"We have ample power. This point is not to be doubted," he added.
Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui touched off the new spat last week by scrapping Taipei's longstanding "One China" policy that has kept the peace for decades.
Lee said Beijing-Taipei contacts now would have to be conducted on a "special state-to-state" basis, rather than between "political entities," the old formula.
Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province that must be brought under its rule, denounced the move as one towards Taiwan independence and heaped abuse on Lee.
Taipei, which agrees reconciliation is a shared goal but says it will only embrace a democratic China, has been estranged from the mainland since the Nationalists lost a civil war to the Communists and fled into exile on the island in 1949.
It says junking the "One China" policy has not changed reality and has offered to talk Beijing through its reasoning. Beijing has hinted it might listen.
Washington has issued a clear warning to Beijing, saying any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means would be of "grave concern" to the United States.
Wen Wei Po said "wartime mobilisation drills" involving more than 100 civilian vessels were held off the frontline province of Fujian facing Taiwan on Friday.
Seamen gathered for the drills, conducted by the Nanjing Military Region, sang: "We will liberate Taiwan," the paper said.
Su Jing, deputy chief of staff of the Nanjing military region which includes Fujian, watched the 12-hour drill in the frontline area about 160 km (100 miles) from Taiwan, it said.
Mainland state media remained silent on the "wartime mobilisation drills."
One Chinese political analyst said tensions would mount.
"The mobilisation of civilian vessels is a sign China could take military action on a very large scale," said the analyst, who asked not to be identified.
"Civilian vessels are mobilised only when there are not enough military vessels," he added.
Hong Kong's independent Ming Pao daily, quoting unidentified sources, said on Saturday China's army, navy and air force were planning joint exercises in Fujian, but their timing and other details had yet to be decided.
Taipei's policy change has rippled through Asian financial markets, also hurting China's own markets in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Taiwan authorities marshalled billions of dollars of state funds on Saturday to stem a sharp stock market slide.
In 1995 and 1996 China's armed forces held months of war games in and around the Taiwan Strait after Lee paid a private visit to the United States that Beijing saw as a bid to break out of diplomatic isolation.
China fired missiles into Taiwan waters and the United States sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area and China-U.S. ties were strained for more than a year afterwards.
Meanwhile, the People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, said in a front-page commentary Taiwan's "farcical" attempt to break out of diplomatic isolation is "doomed to fail."
"Lee Teng-hui must be held responsible for his words and deeds to split the motherland," the commentary said.