Premier Wen Jiabao has said Beijing will never permit Taiwanese independence in any form, as People's Liberation Army generals warn that the island would pay a price if they voted for a contentious referendum on seeking UN membership. 'We firmly oppose Taiwan independence secessionist activities, and will never allow anyone to separate Taiwan from the motherland in any guise or by any means,' Mr Wen said in an opening address to the annual National People's Congress meeting yesterday. 'The attempts of Taiwan independence secessionist forces to deny the reality that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China, and to undermine peace in the Taiwan Strait are doomed to fail. 'Any issue that concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be decided by all the Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots,' he said. Military deputies voiced their strong opposition to Taiwan's referendum plans. 'We hope that Taiwanese people will have a sober mind in regard to safeguarding peace and stability across the strait,' said Major-General Luo Yuan , from the PLA's Academy of Military Sciences. 'And I think Taiwanese people should also know that they will have to pay a certain price if they choose to do what we do not like to see.' Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party government has initiated a referendum to be held alongside the island's presidential election on March 22, on the island joining the United Nations under the name Taiwan rather than its official title, the Republic of China. The United States and Beijing have warned against such a move. General Yue Huilai , commander of the PLA's Jilin military area, said Beijing would act in accordance with the Anti-Secession Law, which states that the mainland could resort to force if the island goes ahead with formal independence. General Xia Guofu , commander of the Sichuan military district, said the PLA was fully prepared for any action called for by the party. 'We will take action, not just speaking, as we have an anti-secession law,' General Xia said, adding that any details were military secrets. Mr Wen extended Taiwan an olive branch, renewing an offer of talks, and pledging to promote exchanges. In an annual report released on Monday, the Pentagon said China's military modernisation was being driven in the near term by preparations for contingencies over Taiwan. Mr Wen said modernisation was a 'strategic task in developing socialism with Chinese characteristics'. 'Our aim is to enable the army to fully carry out its historic mission at the new stage in the new century, enhance its ability to respond to security threats and ... staunchly protect China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,' he said.