BEIJING has put out feelers to the Non-Mainstream faction of the Kuomintang for 'reunification talks' with the Communist Party. Contacts with the mainlander-dominated faction, which adopts a more conciliatory attitude towards Beijing, have taken place through channels, including informal ones, in third countries. Chinese sources said yesterday that the mainland's Taiwan experts had realised that the Non-Mainstream faction, which wants President Lee Teng-hui to step down, did not have majority support on the island. A link between Beijing and this faction would give the People's Liberation Army (PLA) an excuse for intervention in Taiwan politics. For example, the sources said, the PLA could claim it wanted to protect the pro-unification faction and other 'patriotic forces' in Taiwan from being persecuted by the mainstream faction led by Mr Lee. The PLA could also allege that Mr Lee's faction was using its hold on power to rig the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Non-mainstream politicians have complained that Mr Lee is opting for an electoral system that favours the mainstream faction. For more than a month, the official Chinese media has run articles and commentaries in support of the 'dump-Lee' action. Yesterday, the Chinese-controlled Hong Kong daily, Wen Wei Po, ran colour photographs of the anti-Lee demonstration in Taipei on Sunday. 'Should the Communist Party leadership come to an agreement in 'reunification talks' with the Non-Mainstream people, this will be construed by Beijing as a pact with the entire Taiwan populace,' said a Taipei-based political analyst. 'The mainland will then try to enforce this agreement using the backing of the PLA.' It is understood that since the spring Beijing has been looking for excuses to intervene in the island's affairs. One possibility is the occupation of Taiwan-held islands close to Fujian province under the pretext of protecting Chinese fishermen from being murdered by the Taiwanese Army. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported yesterday that Northrop Grumman Corp, a Los Angeles-based defence contractor, is considering a joint venture to help upgrade Taiwan's F-5 jet fighters. Company vice-president William James will sign a letter of intent with Taiwan's Economics Ministry on Thursday, said Jack Tang, deputy director of the government Committee for Aviation and Space Industry Development. Taiwan hoped to set up a factory to modernise the jet fighter's body and avionics, officials said.