China Hopes Taiwan Stays Stable as Protests Against Island's President Continue

China's Communist leadership says it hopes Taiwan can remain stable as protesters on the island call for the resignation of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.

Despite being bitter enemies of Chen Shui-bian, China's Communist leaders on Wednesday indicated they do not want to see a violent collapse of his government.

Li Weiyi, a spokesman of the Communist government's Taiwan Affairs Office, told reporters at a briefing that Beijing does not "want to see unfortunate events occur on the island.

"Taiwan compatriots are our flesh and blood. We sincerely hope Taiwan can enjoy social stability and economic development, and that its residents can live in peace and contentment," Li said.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, when Chinese nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek fled there following their defeat by Mao Zedong's communists on the mainland. The Communist government has vowed to take the island, by force if necessary, if it declares independence.

Chen Shui-bian has angered Beijing by pushing for a new constitution and other measures that the Communists on the mainland interpret as Taiwanese moves toward independence.

China's government-controlled media have given much play to news that thousands of Mr. Chen's opponents have been marching on Taipei and demanding his resignation. This is in keeping with Beijing's efforts to portray the island as being politically divided and ungovernable.

However, Tuesday's statements by the Chinese government were yet another indication that Beijing would not view an ouster of Chen by public pressure as a positive development.

Analysts say the last thing China's Communist rulers would want is for their people see an example of how mass movements could bring about a change of government.