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Experts: Chen's call for talks is vague
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-11 00:25

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian was accused Sunday of playing word games in his "national day" speech.

Mainland researchers described his call for cross-Straits peace talks as "more symbolic than substantial."

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian waves to spectators during the island's "national day" celebrations in Taipei October 10, 2004. Chen said he was open to talks with Beijing, but Beijing researchers described his call for cross-Straits peace talks as "more symbolic than substantial." [Reuters]
The researchers said Chen's peace overture was "too insincere and vague to be treated seriously by the mainland."

At the "double-tenth" celebration ceremony to mark the founding of the "republic of China" in 1911, Chen said his government is willing to prepare for the resumption of cross-Straits negotiations on the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong.

But he did not spell out what he meant by the proposal.

Under an informal verbal agreement between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation in November 1992, the two sides of the Straits both adhere to the one-China principle.

Beijing has called the informal deal the 1992 consensus, which finally led to a series of ice-breaking meetings across the Straits.

Talks broke off in July 1999 when former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui redefined cross-Straits ties as a "state-to-state relationship."

Chen, however, has denied the existence of the consensus in a bid to shun the one-China principle since he took office in May 2000.

Instead he said the real significance of the 1992 meeting was the willingness of Beijing and Taipei to agree to disagree.

"It seems that Chen is playing with words again because his mention of the 1992 meeting does not have any new and concrete content," said Liu Guoshen, president of the Academy of Taiwan Research at Xiamen University.

"If he continues to reject the consensus reached at the 1992 meeting as he did before, his proposal will be tantamount to nonsense and be of no use to help jump-start cross-Straits talks."

The researcher went further to say that bilateral talks will not be resumed as long as Chen refuses to accept the one-China principle that both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.

The mainland sets the one-China principle as the precondition for the resumption of any bilateral talks but Chen, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, has been pursuing formal independence for the island.

Liu said Chen has taken the seemingly conciliatory move as a voting strategy to woo moderate voters in the upcoming year-end "legislative" elections.

"On the one hand, the leader is trying to ease internal pressure from the Taiwanese public for him to stabilize relations with the mainland by painting a false picture of cross-Straits peace," the researcher noted.

"On the other hand, Chen also wants to curry favour with Washington, which has warned against any move by the island to unilaterally alter the cross-Straits status quo."

Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Chen is just using the talk about peace to cover up his separatist attempt.

"His call for bilateral talks suggested even the Taiwanese leader himself has come to realize the significance of improving cross-Straits ties to the stability and economic development of Taiwan," he told China Daily.

"But he has apparently failed to find a correct way of breaking the stalemate in cross-Straits ties by sticking to his pro-independence stance."

Chen promoted Taiwan as an independent country throughout an earlier address yesterday and justified the island's planned purchase of American weapons.

His administration is planning to buy 610.8 billion new Taiwanese dollars (US$18.2 billion) worth of US-manufactured anti-missile systems, planes and submarines. The move has met with strong opposition from the Taiwanese people.

"You can see clearly Chen is determined to push for 'Taiwan independence' through military build-up and his talk about peace is nothing but deception," Li said.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan expressed on Saturday strong indignation for the recent convening of the "US-Taiwan defence conference" in the United States.

The United States and Taiwan recently held an annual defence conference in Arizona, during which it was reported that US Deputy Under Secretary of Defence Richard Lawless urged Taiwan to approve its special budget for the US arms purchase.

"This practice helped motivate the Taiwan independence forces and is very harmful to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits," Kong said.

He added that China strongly urges the United States to recognize the harm its "wrong practice" causes and don't send wrong signals to pro-independence forces to avoid harming Sino-US relations.

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