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Saber rattling over Taiwan

The week's news at a glance.

Beijing

China warned Taiwan this week that a referendum on Taiwanese independence from the mainland would bring “disaster.” The threat came after Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian called for a vote on independence, saying that China and Taiwan are “different countries.” Chen’s 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 Chen’s speech did not imply any change in policy.

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