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Taiwan Leader Denies War With China Is Imminent, Despite Reports of Tension

January 29, 1996| Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan — China and Taiwan are not about to go to war, despite persistent news reports of increased tension between the two countries, Taiwan's president said Sunday.

But on the same day that President Lee Teng-hui made the comments at a political rally, the military said a boat believed to be Chinese shot at a Taiwanese cargo ship, a newspaper reported Taiwan has increased its defense budget and another newspaper said Taiwan will hold a naval drill to improve anti-submarine skills.

"Our relations with the mainland seem to have got tenser," Lee said of the news reports. "In fact, you can relax. There is no such thing."

The New York Times reported last week that China's military has plans for a limited action against Taiwan--perhaps conventional missile strikes--if Lee continues his efforts to raise the island's international stature.

But Lee told the 10,000 gathered in the central city of Taichung: "There will be no more military confrontation between the two sides. We have already conducted peaceful civilian contacts."

Relations between Taiwan and China, which claims sovereignty over the island and considers it a rebel province to be retaken by force if necessary, worsened after Lee made a private visit to the United States last year.

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