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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Taiwan Friday rejected an offer by China to hold talks, criticising Beijing for not making any concessions and insisting on acceptance of its "one Chi

InternationalTaiwan rejects China's offer of talks

AFP, TAIPEI

May 13: Taiwan Friday rejected an offer by China to hold talks, criticising Beijing for not making any concessions and insisting on acceptance of its "one China" principle as a precondition for resuming dialogue.

Chinese President Hu Jintao made the offer Thursday during a visit by a Taiwan opposition leader but said it was conditional on acceptance of the "one China" principle under which China regards Taiwan as a part of its territory. "The two sides should shelve their disputes and extend mutual respect to lay foundations for the improvement of bilateral relations and the resumption of cross-strait talks," said You Ying-lung, vice chairman of Taiwan's cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council.

"Neither side should impose unilaterally its political belief as precondition to the development of bilateral ties." You was referring to the joint statement released by President Hu and Taiwan opposition politician James Soong after their meeting in Beijing Thursday.

Hu and Soong, chairman of the People First Party, pledged to push for cross-strait peace talks under the "two sides, one China" principle, oppose independence for Taiwan, and work towards the opening of direct transport links between the two rivals in 2006.

"We will not accept any pre-condition which implies 'one China'," You said.

"Communist China has been trying to manipulate cross-strait issues through negotiations with the opposition. This is purely propaganda and it proved they have no sincerity to improve bilateral ties."

You said the "two sides, one China" was just a repackaging of the so-called 1992 consensus reached between the two rivals when Taiwan was under the rule of the Kuomintang (KMT).

Independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian does not recognise the consensus, under which Beijing and Taipei had agreed verbally to recognise "one China" with its definition open to respective interpretations.

"The Republic of China (Taiwan's official name) is an independent sovereign state... any change in the cross-strait status quo must be agreed by the Taiwanese people," You said.

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory despite their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war when the KMT forces were defeated by the communists and fled to the island.

President Chen Thursday categorically rejected the "one China" principle. "Should we accept the 'One China' principle, Taiwan would be Hong Kongized and become part of the People's Republic of China, a scenario which is by no means acceptable to the 23 million people in Taiwan," Chen said in an interview with Formosa Television.

Soong was due to return home later Friday. His trip followed a landmark visit to China by KMT chairman Lien Chan, the first by a KMT leader since 1949.

The opposition leaders have said their trips were meant to bridge the differences between the two governments and pave the way for peace talks. Chen ended the KMT's 51-year grip on power after his Democratic Progressive Party won the 2000 presidential election. He was re-elected last year.

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