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One-China policy key to talks with Taipei
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-27 22:28

Beijing Wednesday ruled out new talks with Taipei despite a call from US Secretary of State Colin Powell to reopen cross-Straits dialogue.

Zhang Mingqing, spokesman with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said there is no basis for reopening bilateral talks unless Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian abandons his separatist push.

He added that the resumption of any cross-Straits talks must be based on the precondition of the one-China principle, which holds both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.

The official brushed aside Taipei's allegation that the precondition set by Beijing has hindered the resumption of cross-Straits negotiation.

"What would we talk about if there was no (basis of the) one-China principle between both sides of the Taiwan Straits?" Zhang said at a regular news conference.

"The mainland will never accept cross-Straits negotiations that are taken as state-to-state."

The spokesman was responding to Powell's appeal for Beijing to respond to Chen's call for peace talks in his speech on October 10.

During a one-day visit to Beijing on Monday, Powell urged Chinese leaders to be "open minded" and renew cross-Straits negotiation.

Talks were first started in 1992 but broke off in 1999 after former Taiwan "president" Lee Teng-hui redefined bilateral ties as "special state to state."

"No matter who has made the call for the resumption of peace talks, the problem is not with us. Instead it lies in the attitude of Chen Shui-bian," Zhang told reporters.

He stressed that Chen's ceaseless separatist activities have damaged the basis for resuming cross-Straits dialogue.

The Taiwan leader has been bent on promoting a de-sinofication policy through a series of creeping pro-independence moves since taking office in May 2000.

While refusing to embrace the one-China principle, Chen advocates that there is "one country at each side (of the Taiwan Straits)."

His ongoing plan to adopt a new "constitution" for the island by 2008 is widely considered a step tantamount to a declaration of formal independence.

Zhang noted that Chen's relentless pursuit of  "Taiwan independence'' has greatly endangered peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits and his call for peace talks is nothing but a "phony olive branch."

"Only with sincerity and goodwill can an olive branch, as a symbol of peace, be real," he said.

Chen claims to have extended olive branches some 30 times since he was first elected in 2000.

"If they are fake olive branches, it doesn't matter if it's 30 or 30,000, it's meaningless."

At the press briefing Wednesday, the spokesman welcomed Powell's comments denying Taiwan is an independent nation and suggesting that the island should unify with the Chinese mainland.

"Mr. Powell's comments are consistent with the long-standing one-China policy of the United States," Zhang said.

Washington officially recognizes Beijing and acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is a part of China, but maintains unofficial relations with Taipei.

"There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy," Powell told Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television in Beijing.

In an interview with CNN, Powell said he did not want to see either side "take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking," according to a US State Department transcript of the interview.

His overture is believed to have departed from Washington's strategically vague one-China policy as well as the usual US practice of urging both sides to peacefully resolve their differences without taking any stance on what the resolution should be.

Taiwanese officials have sought to downplay the impact of his comments.

In Taipei, Chen Shui-bian told visiting former South Korean President Kim Young-sam on Tuesday that Taiwan is "definitely a sovereign and independent country."

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