Beijing warns Taiwan against havoc

Policy-making affairs office did not say what China might do


TAIPEI, Taiwan - Beijing issued a strong warning yesterday that it would not tolerate turmoil here, as hundreds of stone-throwing protesters fought with the riot police in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the official certification of President Chen Shui-bian as the winner of a disputed election last Saturday.

After restricting itself for a week to bland comments that it was watching the wrangling over who won the election, the policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing warned in a statement yesterday, "We will not sit back and look on unconcerned should the post-election situation in Taiwan get out of control, leading to social turmoil, endangering the lives and property of Taiwan compatriots and affecting stability across the Taiwan Straits."

The Beijing agency did not say what China would do if political tensions here continued to rise. Beijing has previously cited turmoil in Taiwan or a formal declaration of independence by the island as two reasons why the mainland might need to intervene militarily.

The Taiwan government's Mainland Affairs Council and the political opposition issued separate statements accusing Beijing of meddling in Taiwan's internal affairs.

Breaking glass entrance doors, throwing stones and eggs and pushing three rows of riot policemen out of their way, a crowd of protesters broke into a government building here yesterday afternoon as the Central Election Commission met on the building's 10th floor to certify Chen and Vice President Annette Lu as the winners of the election.

The protesters left after being urged by one of their leaders to save their energy for a confrontation with police today.

The two opposition parties, the Nationalist Party and People First Party, whose joint ticket narrowly lost the presidential election, are preparing for a bigger confrontation with the government today. They are bringing supporters here from all over Taiwan in hopes of gathering 300,000 people in front of the presidential palace.

Prime Minister Yu Shyi-kun, a supporter of Chen, condemned the rally in a statement, urging the opposition and the government's supporters to stay home so as to avoid clashes. "Do not let March 27 become a nightmare for Taiwan's democracy," he said in a statement.

The certification of the election results allows the Nationalists to proceed with a lawsuit demanding at least a recount and possibly a new election. The certification also came as Chen's Democratic Progressive Party and the Nationalist Party negotiated in the legislature over a bill that would require at least a recount. The Nationalists want a broader bill that would essentially force a new election.

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