Wen warns Taiwan not to misuse democracy
( 2003-12-08 08:53) (Agencies)
China's Premier Wen Jiabao, at the start of a four-day visit to the United States, said Beijing would never allow Taiwan to use aspirations for democracy as a cover for separatism.
Tensions have risen across the Taiwan strait since last month, when the island's "parliament" passed a law allowing referendums. Taiwan "President" Chen Shui-bian has backed off an independence vote but instead planned a referendum in March asking Beijing to withdraw ballistic missiles aimed at the island.
Asked about the March referendum, Wen said China understood "the aspiration of the people in Taiwan for democracy."
"However, the essence of the problem now is that the separatist forces within the Taiwan authorities attempt to use democracy only as a cover to split Taiwan away from China and this is what we will never tolerate."
But he said that as long "as there is still a glimmer of hope, the Chinese government will not give up its efforts for a peaceful unification and a peaceful settlement."
"We believe this will serve the interest of both sides of the Taiwan Straits. This will also be conducive to peace and stability in Asia Pacific and the world at large," the premier said.
The Chinese government has always adhered to the principle of "peaceful reunification, one country, two systems," believing that this is the most important principle for the settlement of the Taiwan issue, Wen said.
The Chinese premier added that he and Annan discussed, among other things, the nuclear issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), UN reforms, the relations between China and the world body, the global fight against poverty and AIDS and the economic development in Africa.
"We see completely eye to eye on these issues," Wen said, while promising to strengthen the cooperation between China and the United Nations.
On his part, Annan, standing beside Wen, reiterated the adherence to the one-China policy by the United Nations.
"We have the one-China policy, and also our support for the approach that all the differences will be settled politically and peacefully, without any resort to any violence. So we maintain the one-China policy and the need to resolve all issues peacefully," he said.
Annan expressed his thanks for China's economic and material support for the economic development of African countries.
Premier hopes for closer China-US relations
Premier Wen Jiabao, at a meeting here with American scholars Sunday night, stressed that China and the United States should avoid conflicts and make more efforts to deepen their relations.
A review of the history of China-US relations over the past half century leads to a basic conclusion that both gain from peaceful coexistence and lose from conflicts, and it is a common understanding that the two nations should continuously broaden and deepen their relations, Wen said.
Wen discussed with these American scholars China-US economic and trade ties, the exchange rate of the Chinese currency, the RMB, and relations across the Taiwan Straits.
Wen said that China will make joint efforts with the United States to establish a new mechanism of consultation to properly handle possible friction and conflicts and start a new phase of cooperation in economic relations and trade between the two sides.
Among the scholars were David Lampton, director of Chinese Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. They noted that the China-US relations have improved a great deal amid ups and downs over the past three decades as both sides managed to narrow their differences and open up broad prospects for further cooperation.
They cautioned that the two countries should work together to properly handle the problems in bilateral trade. They also made suggestions on readjusting China's policy governing the exchange rate of its currency. Wen Jiabao said China will further improve the mechanism of shaping RMB's exchange rate.
The Chinese premier reiterated that China will adhere to the fundamental principle of "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems." He stressed that China will never tolerate any attempt to split Taiwan from the motherland.
Some of the US scholars present said the US government should take a clearer stand against Taiwan's independence, and both sides should improve their communication and join hands in maintaining the stability in the Asia Pacific region.
Wen also met with some 600 representatives of the local Chinese community. At the meeting, he said maintaining national unity constitutes the ultimate national interests and that China will do its utmost to promote the peaceful reunification of the motherland.
Taiwan Issue a cloud over ties
Wen is the highest ranking Chinese leader to visit the United States since Beijing wrapped up a sweeping power transition to a younger generation headed by President Hu Jintao in March.
Taiwan has emerged as a cloud over ties between the world's most populous nation and its most powerful, one that risks undermining Chinese support for U.S. efforts like the war on terror and the North Korean nuclear crisis, analysts said.
Chinese military officials have threatened war if Taiwan moved toward independence -- even at the risk of boycotts of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and economic recession.
Seeking to ease tensions, a U.S. envoy carried a message to Taipei last week that Washington did not want to see an independence referendum take place, administration officials said.
Vice Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong has said Wen, who meets President Bush on Tuesday in Washington, would seek a more forceful statement that the United States clearly "opposed" Taiwan steps toward independence.
That would mark a nuanced but significant shift from the U.S. line that it "does not support" independence moves, analysts said, a position Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated on Friday.
"If the U.S. makes a clear statement opposing Taiwan independence, then it will help Sino-U.S. relations," said Jia Qingguo, professor at Peking University of International Studies.
"But if the U.S. does not even support China on the core issues ... China will have a hard time fully cooperating with the United States in other areas."
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