Taiwan UN Vote Called 'Provocative'

BEIJING -- The United States stressed on Thursday that it opposed Taiwan's plans to hold a referendum on UN membership, while Beijing urged Washington to help oppose the vote, which it calls a dangerous provocation.

Speaking before regular high-level talks with China, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte pointedly criticized the vote planned for March, in which Taiwan's independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian wants approval to seek United Nations membership under the name "Taiwan."

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must accept reunification and calls the referendum a provocative bid to create formal independence for the island.

"From the perspective of the United States, the conduct of such a referendum is a mistake," Negroponte told reporters, echoing comments made in December by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.