Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian made unusually strong pro-independence remarks in a message apparently aimed at provoking rival China and shoring up his base.
"Taiwan should be independent," Chen said to cheers at a banquet Sunday marking the 25th anniversary of the pro-independence group, the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.
"Taiwan is a country whose sovereignty lies outside the People's Republic of China," he said, referring to the mainland Chinese government.
He spoke mainly in the local Taiwanese dialect, instead of Mandarin, the language commonly used on the mainland.
China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949 when the communists defeated the ruling Nationalist Party, which retreated to the island Taiwan.