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Friday, December 24, 2004 rebuffs Powell's call to talk with Taiwan rebuffs Powell's call to talk with Taiwan

China rebuffs Powell's call to talk with Taiwan
2004-10-26 / Agence France-Presse /

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (L) meets Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. (REUTERs)
China yesterday rebuffed suggestions by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that it consider accepting the Taiwanese president's offer of talks to reduce cross-strait tension.

Powell admitted he had made little headway in prodding Chinese leaders in that direction and a senior State Department official said later that the secretary's delegation had gotten "an earful" of complaints in response.

"I encouraged all of my interlocutors today to keep an open mind with respect to dialogue and to take every opportunity that comes along to increase cross-strait dialogue," Powell said after meeting China's top leaders.

But he acknowledged that the leadership is "still concerned about President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) actions and they did not find his statement to be that forthcoming."

The senior official said later that the Chinese "gave us an earful on Taiwan" and recited their standard litany of protests about U.S. policy toward the island.

"They took note of (what we said) in a polite way and gave no indication that they would be responsive to that," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"They were uniformly downbeat in their assessment of President Chen Shui-bian's speech of 10/10," the official said.

Beijing has made clear it was unimpressed with a speech by Chen on October 10 in which he urged China to enter into dialogue on easing tension and reducing a military build-up between the two sides.

It called the offer "fully an attempt to cheat the Taiwan people and international public opinion."

In a meeting with Powell yesterday, President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said "the current situation across the Taiwan Straits is still very complicated and sensitive," the Xinhua news agency reported.

"The 'Taiwan independence' forces' activities aiming at splitting the country remain the root of the cross-straits tension and the greatest threat to peace and stability in the region," said Hu.

Hu told Powell that opposition to Taiwan's independence overtures were "in the common interests of both China and the United States," Xinhua said.

During his talks with Hu, Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Powell reaffirmed the U.S. "One China" policy.

But he said the United States would continue to follow the Taiwan Relations Act which governs Washington's relations with the island and calls for the sale of arms for its defense.

Powell said that Washington does not support Taiwan's independence and its position will not change. "We do not support independence for Taiwan. That would be inconsistent with our One China policy and there's no doubt in President Chen Shui-bian's mind, or in any other Taiwanese leader's mind, that is a firm U.S. policy that is not going to change," Powell said.

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