BEIJING scholars who warned there would be war if Mr Chen won the election softened their rhetoric yesterday, saying he had 'modified' his position on independence. An authoritative Taiwan affairs think-tank said Beijing would demand Mr Chen immediately recognise the 'one-China' principle and that Taiwan could not have independence. Li Jiaquan, a research fellow at the Institute of Taiwan Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, said: 'Mr Chen has to live up to his words to give up calling a referendum for Taiwan independence and to renounce claims that Taiwan is a separate nation. 'We've observed that Chen has modified his pro-independence stance in the past few weeks. We'll wait and see if Mr Chen shows his sincerity to ease cross-strait tension.' Mr Li had earlier said Beijing could achieve reunification within 24 hours if Mr Chen declared independence. If he had softened his stance 'for peaceful reunification', the timetable for cross-strait reunification could be longer, Mr Li said, adding that it could take three to five years or even longer. But if Mr Chen or Taiwan moved towards independence, the timetable could be much shorter, he warned. Professor Yu Keli, deputy director of the institute, also said Beijing would be willing to co-operate. 'If Chen does not take provocative steps, Beijing would be willing to deal with him in cross-strait matters,' he said. 'Beijing showed its bottom line last month in its cabinet policy paper on Taiwan, which warned it would attack if Taiwan declares independence, foreign forces intervene or Taiwanese leaders indefinitely put off negotiating unification. 'The foundation for co-operation with Chen is that he should not go beyond such a bottom line.' Xin Bao of the Central Party School of the Communist Party said Beijing wanted concessions from Mr Chen. 'Chen should return to the 'one China' principle and stop all irritative gestures,' he said.