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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hu: Taiwan Pro - Separation Forces a Threat - New York Times

Hu: Taiwan Pro - Separation Forces a Threat - New York TimesApril 16, 2006


Filed at 5:10 a.m. ET

BEIJING (AP) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday called for new talks with rival Taiwan and warned that the island's independence advocates remained the greatest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan strait.

''Only by opposing and checking Taiwan's independence forces can we eliminate the biggest threat harming the peaceful and stable development of ties across the strait,'' Hu said during a meeting with Lien Chan, former chairman of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party.

China and Taiwan should ''resume talks on an equal footing as soon as possible,'' Hu said during the meeting, which was carried live on state-run television.

Hu's one-hour meeting with the former party head and nearly 200 Taiwanese politicians, academics, and businesspeople was part of a campaign by Beijing to isolate Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian by forging ties with his political opposition.

Chen strongly advocates a separate identity for the democratic island, while the opposition supports eventual unification.

China is also trying to sway Taiwanese public opinion in favor of the communist mainland by offering trade concessions that appeal to one of the island's key voting groups, farmers. Beijing on Saturday announced tariff cuts on imports of fruit and fish from Taiwan.

The two sides split amid civil war in 1949 and have no official relations, but China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.

The mainland has promised to pursue peaceful unification but also has threatened to attack if the island pursues formal independence.

The two sides last held official talks on unification in Hong Kong in 1992, when they agreed that the island and mainland were part of ''one China.''

Beijing says it is open to talks with Taipei based on the ''one-China'' principle, which Chen has rejected.

During his stay in Beijing, Lien also attended a two-day government forum on cross-strait business.

Taiwan's outspoken Vice President Annette Lu on Saturday accused Lien of ''betraying his conscience'' by attending the trade forum in Beijing and ignoring the fact that rival China is pointing hundreds of missiles at the island.

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