China warns against Taiwan 'separatist schemes'

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang used his opening speech at the National People’s Congress to issue a warning to neighboring Taiwan, saying China would not tolerate any “separatist schemes or activities for Taiwan independence” and would defend its territorial integrity with the ultimate objective of “reunification” with the self-governing, democratic territory.

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“We will remain firm in safeguarding China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never tolerate any separatist schemes or activities for Taiwan independence,” said Li to some 3,000 legislators at the Great Hall of the People.

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Li’s announcement comes at a time when the U.S. is considering a bill that hopes to promote official contact between Washington and Taipei. Separately, China also announced an increase of 8.1 percent for its defense spending, which Reuters reports might add to Taiwanese fears regarding China’s intentions in the region. The National People’s Congress is expected to “rubber-stamp” (Reuters) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal to amend the Chinese constitution (see WikiTribune‘s coverage – and in French).

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