China refused yesterday to retract statements made by one of its generals that it would use nuclear weapons against American cities if the US military intervened if the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was to invade Taiwan. The comments came amid a flurry of criticism from Washington and Taipei on Friday.
But Beijing insisted that it would resolutely seek to resolve the "Taiwan question" in a peaceful manner.
"We will never tolerate Taiwan independence, neither will we allow anybody to separate Taiwan from the motherland," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.
"We hope the United States will fulfill its commitments [on Taiwan] with concrete actions and join efforts with China to maintain the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.
The spokesman was commenting on statements made this week by Major General Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎), dean of China's National Defense University, who said China could launch a nuclear attack on "hundreds" of US cities if Washington interfered militarily in the dispute over Taiwan's status.
"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," Zhu said. "If the Americans are determined to interfere [then] we will be determined to respond."
China's foreign ministry spokesman said that Zhu's comments reflected his personal views, but refused to clarify whether such views also represented the position of the government.
"My statement is clear, how you interpreted it is up to you," Zhu added.
"We firmly believe it is in the interests of both China and the United States, as well as in the interests of the peace, stability and development of the Asia Pacific region and the whole world, to oppose Taiwan independence and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.
"We will firmly abide by the principles of peaceful reunification and `one country two systems' and we will express the deepest sincerity and exert the greatest efforts to realize peaceful reunification," the spokesman said.
In other developments, the commander of the Guangdong Military District of the PLA, Liu Zhenwu, departed China yesterday at the head of a six-member delegation for a visit to the US at the invitation of the US Pacific Command, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
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