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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.

Japan Today - News - Chen wins Taiwan vote for review assembly - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Chen wins Taiwan vote for review assembly - Japan's Leading International News Network: "Chen wins Taiwan vote for review assembly

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Sunday, May 15, 2005 at 04:00 JST
TAIPEI — President Chen Shui-bian's Democratic Progressive Party won a majority of seats Saturday for an assembly being formed to review a package of constitutional changes for Taiwan.

Final results show the DPP won 127 seats, the Nationalist Party, or KMT, obtained 117 seats and the third-largest opposition group, the People First Party got 18 places. (Kyodo News)
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Thursday, May 12, 2005

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's Soong meets Hu Jintao

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan's Soong meets Hu Jintao Taiwan's Soong meets Hu Jintao
The head of Taiwan's opposition People First Party, James Soong, has met Chinese President and Communist Party leader Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The two men were expected to discuss the impasse between China and Taiwan.

Mr Soong's "bridge-building" trip follows soon after that of another Taiwanese opposition leader, Nationalist Party chairman Lien Chan.

Mr Lien was the first Nationalist head to visit China since the party fled to Taiwan after losing the 1949 civil war.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has given both Mr Lien and Mr Soong's trip his blessing.

But despite being the island's leader, Mr Chen himself is unlikely to receive such an invitation, analysts say.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

China Rules Out Using Sanctions on North Korea

May 11, 2005

BEIJING, May 10 - China on Tuesday ruled out applying economic or political sanctions to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, appearing to undercut a crucial element of the Bush administration's evolving North Korea strategy. The announcement comes just as American intelligence agencies are trying to determine whether North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.

Echoing President Bush's public comments, the Chinese said in a briefing on Tuesday that they still hoped that talks with North Korea would succeed in disarming the country, even though it has boycotted those talks for 11 months.

Liu Jianchao, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Tuesday that China rejected suggestions that it should reduce oil or food shipments to North Korea, calling them part of its normal trade with its neighbor that should be separate from the nuclear problem. "The normal trade flow should not be linked up with the nuclear issue," he said. "We oppose trying to address the problem through strong-arm tactics."

Beijing's apparent unwillingness to go along with Mr. Bush's backup plan to squeeze North Korea takes away the crucial pressure point that Mr. Bush's aides have been counting on. It also suggests that the strategy of threatening to go to the United Nations Security Council - which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun to discuss - could fail.

China's statement came just days after officials said at least one American intelligence agency had picked up signs that North Korea might be preparing for its first test of a nuclear weapon at Kilju in the northeastern part of the country.

That evidence is ambiguous, and some in the intelligence agencies, including analysts at the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research, are debating whether the activity they are seeing in satellite images signals that a test is imminent. Even those who find the evidence particularly worrisome caution that the activity could be a ruse.

Earlier on Tuesday, North Korea's state-run media said the United States was "making a fuss" regarding whether North Korea might conduct a test. While it dismissed the reports as "U.S. strategic opinions," the Korean Central News Agency neither denied that that was the country's intent nor threatened - as North Korea has in past - to detonate a weapon to prove that it could.

President Bush called China's president, Hu Jintao, to discuss North Korea late last week, though the White House gave no details of the conversation. But several current and former American officials noted on Tuesday that the Chinese had consistently resisted pressure to crack down on trade with the North Koreans, and seemed to have made the stability of the North Korean government a top priority. Mr. Bush and his aides have said that disarmament is their top priority, and the president has made no secret of the fact that he detests the North Korea leader, Kim Jong Il, whom he recently called a "tyrant," accusing him of keeping political dissidents in "concentration camps."

"Our sense is there is a great debate going on in Beijing right now, which is intense and divisive," one senior administration official said on Tuesday. "Their game worked fine when the North Koreans were talking" with the other five nations - China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. But now, the official noted, "North Korea is saying it is a nuclear weapons state, and they say they want to go into mutual arms reduction talks."

That is a position very different from the one North Korea was taking a year ago, when the discussion was about agreeing to a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. The Chinese, the administration official said, "know that just getting them back to the talks isn't good enough now."

Still, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statements suggest that China's strategy for dealing with North Korea remains basically unchanged despite the concerns about a nuclear test, and despite repeated appeals of the Bush administration urging Beijing to take a tougher line.

While Mr. Liu called recent developments related to North Korea's weapons program "worrying," he said both the United States and North Korea had expressed a commitment to resume negotiations and that China had "not lost hope" in arranging a new round of talks.