China refused to retract statements made by a leading general that it would use nuclear weapons to repulse US military intervention over Taiwan despite Washington's criticism of the remarks.
But Beijing insisted that it would resolutely seek to resolve the Taiwan issue in a peaceful manner.
"We will never tolerate 'Taiwan Independence', neither will we allow anybody with any means to separate Taiwan from the motherland," a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.
"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 Straits."
The spokesman was commenting on statements made this week by General Zhu Chenghu, 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 Taiwan issue.
"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.
His comments were reported by the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal, which attended a briefing with the general organised by a private Hong Kong organisation, the Better Hong Kong Foundation.
"If the Americans are determined to interfere (then) we will be determined to respond," said Zhu.
"We ... will prepare ourselves for the destruction of all of the cities east of Xian. Of course the Americans will have to be prepared that hundreds ... of cities will be destroyed by the Chinese."
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack on Friday said the remarks attributed to Zhu were "unfortunate" and hoped they did not reflect the views of the Chinese government.
"I haven't seen all the remarks but what I've seen of them, I'll say that they're irresponsible," McCormack told reporters.
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," he said.
"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 Straits," 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."
China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war but Beijing still claims it as part its territory and has repeatedly threatened to invade if the island formalises its 56-year separation with a declaration of independence.
In March China adopted a law allowing it to use force against any secession moves by Taiwan, triggering concerns in Washington and raising tensions in the region. The United States is bound by law to offer the island the means of self-defence if its security were threatened.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Guangdong Military District of the People's Liberation Army, Liu Zhenwu, departed China Saturday at the head of a six-member delegation for a visit to the United States at the invitation of the US Pacific Command, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
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Hundreds In Paris Mark Anniversary Of Rainbow Warrior Sinking
Paris (AFP) Jul 10, 2005
About 500 Greenpeace supporters demonstrated in Paris Sunday, forming a human multicoloured peace symbol to mark the 20th anniversary of the sinking of their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand.
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