Senior cadres have continued to use the National People's Congress platform to put pressure on Taiwan even though Vice-Premier Qian Qichen claimed Taipei felt threatened only because it had a 'guilty conscience'. Senior generals including the Central Military Commission vice-chairmen, Zhang Wannian and Chi Haotian, continued to issue statements at the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference that 'Taiwan independence means war'. Before attending a panel discussion with Hong Kong NPC deputies, Mr Qian denied the mainland was trying to intimidate Taiwan through a White Paper released on February 21 in which Beijing threatened war if Taiwan held off on reunification talks indefinitely. 'When we released the White Paper, they [Taiwan authorities] called that intimidation,' Mr Qian said. 'And when PLA [leaders] said something, they called that intimidation. 'In fact there is no such thing. The Taiwan authorities just have a guilty conscience. They are afraid of this and afraid of that.' Asked whether there was a timetable for reunification, Mr Qian replied, 'the sooner the better'. In talks with Hong Kong deputies, Mr Qian added Beijing was monitoring the Taiwan election as it remained unclear whether candidates upholding independence would be elected. 'There are Taiwanese who fear the mainland will drain their wealth. This will not happen and Beijing will not do so,' said Mr Qian. But the vice-premier said Beijing would not tolerate Taiwan's indefinite procrastination on reunification talks. 'The United States would like to see the Taiwan issue dragging on indefinitely so that Taiwan can become their unsinkable aircraft carrier,' Mr Qian said. Mr Qian insisted the White Paper was consistent with the reunification principle of late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. NPC Chairman Li Peng told Hong Kong delegates that strongly-worded comments by generals at the NPC over the past few days represented official policy. 'Zhang Wannian said something [on Taiwan] the other day,' said Mr Li. 'There was also an editorial in the Liberation Army Daily. They represent the view of the central authorities.' Yesterday, official media quoted General Chi as saying on the fringes of the NPC meeting that 'certain big countries' were fuelling independence sentiment on the island.