CHINA yesterday sought to play down premier Li Peng's omission of the phrase 'Chinese people do not fight fellow Chinese' in his Taiwan policy address. Mr Li's failure on Tuesday to explicitly include the phrase used by President Jiang Zemin in his speech one year earlier has raised concern Beijing is backing away from its position on peaceful reunification. Foreign Ministry spokesman Chen Jian said yesterday a closer examination of Mr Li's speech would reveal China's position on not fighting fellow Chinese remained unchanged. 'It is never an easy task to interpret or explain the remarks made by leaders. So we should have a closer look at what premier Li Peng actually said,' Mr Chen said. 'The premier said [the refusal of Beijing to renounce the use of force] was by no means directed against the people of Taiwan. 'Rather, this was directed against attempts by foreign forces to interfere in China's reunification and attempts by these forces to split China. 'I believe if you make a comparison of these two sentences, the meaning will become clear.' Mr Chen also said the Prime Minister's speech did not indicate Beijing was moving closer to setting a timetable for reunification. 'In the third paragraph of his speech, premier Li said 'the fundamental aim of the Taiwan authorities is the separation of Taiwan from China and creating an independent Taiwan',' he said. Mr Chen suggested this did not mean Beijing considered that Taiwan had achieved that aim or moved closer towards achieving it. He attacked the United States for again issuing a transit visa for Taiwanese Vice-President Li Yuan-tzu, allowing him to make a stopover en route to Haiti. 'We have made solemn representations to the US Government, demanding it honour its commitments contained in the three joint communiques and strictly confine its relationship with Taiwan to the unofficial level,' he said. He said the US should not provide the conditions for Taiwan to try to split the motherland and create new Sino-US problems. On wider relations, Mr Chen warned Washington not to impose trade sanctions on Beijing because of China's failure to adequately protect intellectual property rights.