Saber rattling over Taiwan
The week's news at a glance.
China warned Taiwan this week that a referendum on Taiwanese independence from the mainland would bring disaster. The threat came after Taiwans President Chen Shui-bian called for a vote on independence, saying that China and Taiwan are different countries. Chens statement was a major surprise; when he took office in 2000, he pledged not to push for such a referendum, and most Taiwanese support the status quo of de facto autonomy. Beijing insists that the island is a renegade province that will someday be reunited with the rest of China, and it makes military threats whenever there is talk of permanent independence. Taiwanese officials quickly went into damage-control mode this week, saying Chens speech did not imply any change in policy.