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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Khaleej Times Online > Taiwan opposition to make ice-breaking trip to China

Khaleej Times Online: "Taiwan opposition to make ice-breaking trip to China
15 April 2005

TAIPEI - Taiwan’s main opposition Nationalist Party, or KMT, will send its chairman to China to discuss ending the five-decade hostility across the Taiwan Strait, the party announced on Friday.

“Our Secretary-General Lien Feng-cheng will visit Beijing next week to discuss Lien’s itinerary with the Chinese side,” KMT Spokesman Chang Jung-kong told reporters.

“Lien will make the visit under the principle of dignity, equality and Taiwan’s peace. He will visit Beijing, Nanjing and Xian,” he said.

Party officials already met with Chinese envoys in Hong Kong early this week to reach consensus on Lien’s trip. The United Daily News (UDN) said Friday that Chinese President Hu Jintao has invited Lien to visit China from April 30-May 7.

Lien has said that he hopes to sign a mid-term peace pact with China, so Taiwan and China can co-exist peacefully for 20 or 50 years and discuss unification when conditions are ripe. Late last month the KMT’s vice chairman Chiang Pin-kung led a historic 34-strong delegation to China for five-day visit. During the trip, Chiang reached consensus from Chinese officials on ways to improve cross-strait ties, including having the two sides hold talks on operating cross-strait cargo charter flights, the export of Taiwanese farm products to China and the protection of Taiwanese investment on the mainland.

The resumption of China-KMT contacts could open an alternative channel for communication between Taipei and Beijing as China is shunning dialogue with the Taiwan government controlled by President Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Since Chen became president in 2000, he has been seeking international recognition of Taiwan as an independent country. China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and has warned Chen that his separatist moves could bring about disaster.

On March 14, the Chinese parliament passed an “anti-secession law” authorizing the use of ”non-peaceful means” to prevent Taiwan from seeking independence.

Currently only 25 mostly-small nations have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China, while more than 160 countries recognize China and regard Taiwan as a Chinese province.

The KMT (Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party) lost its five-decade grip on power in Taiwan in 2000, but hopes to re-gain power in the 2008 presidential election.

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