President Hu Jintao offered a stern warning against any move to split Taiwan from the mainland, the South China Morning Post reported. Meeting with Taiwan delegates to the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference, Hu said that "splittist" activities were the biggest obstacle to cross-straits relations and stability. He left the door open for dialogue between Taiwan and the mainland so long as Taiwan recognized the "one-China" principle. Hu’s comments were seen as reflecting the central government’s position towards Taiwan prior to the island’s presidential election on March 22. They also came on the same day that China announced an annual increase of almost 18% in defense spending. Taiwan dismissed Hu’s remarks as "nothing new."