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China issues White Paper re. Taiwan

The front page of the New York Times of February 22, read: "Less than one month before presidential elections in Taiwan, the Chinese government released the bluntest warning yet that it will not wait indefinitely for the island to reunite with the mainland. A prolonged lack of negotiations, in itself, China warned, could provoke a military attack."

The threat appeared in a White Paper published on February 21. In it, China asserts that it "has the right to resort to any necessary means" ("drastic measures including military force") to "realize the reunification of the two sides of the Straits." All this, one day after Taipei announced it would cancel a long-scheduled missile test "to show China goodwill."

Asked what the U.S. would do if China acted on its ultimatum, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said on February 22: "In 1996 we responded appropriately to what we viewed was a threat. That should give you some indication on how we view this situation."

In March 1996, China menaced Taiwan with war games in the run-up to Taiwan's first direct presidential elections, firing missiles into the water just miles off the island.

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