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Beijing considers talking with Chen Shui-bian
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-29 01:28

A top State leader said on Friday the mainland is ready to talk with Taiwan "president" Chen Shui-bian as long as he agrees that the two sides of the Straits belong to the one and same China.

Jia Qinlin delivers the speech. [Xinhua]
Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body, delivered the message a day before a historic non-stop cross-Straits charter flight programme was put into place.

It was the first time that Beijing has categorically shown its willingness to deal with Chen, who was once branded as one of the diehard separatists and a man without political credit.

Due to Chen's denial of the one-China principle and obstinate push for Taiwan "independence," the mainland has ruled out any contact with the Taiwan leader since he took power in May 2000.

"We are open on who to negotiate with and what to negotiate," said Jia, apparently referring to Chen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"We have no bias against any particular person to talk to, nor will we hesitate to talk with the other side just because someone has come to power."

The chairman, also a standing committee member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, stressed that what the mainland is concerned about is Chen's policies and his attitude towards the existing basis of cross-Straits negotiations.

"Regardless of his past rhetoric and actions, as long as he starts now to unequivocally recognize the 1992 consensus that upholds the one-China principle, cross-Straits dialogue and negotiations can be resumed right away and any matter can be put on the table," the leader said.

The 1992 consensus is an informal agreement reached between Taipei and Beijing under which both sides agree to adhere to the one-China principle that there is only one China in the world and both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China. Chen has denied the existence of the consensus.

Jia was addressing a gathering held in Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of Jiang Zemin's eight-point proposition put forward in a speech on January 30, 1995.

The eight proposals dwelled on important questions that have a bearing on the development of cross-Straits relations and the promotion of peaceful reunification of China.

In his speech at the commemorative event, Jia reiterated that the mainland is willing to contact the DPP as long as the ruling party abandons its pro-independence party platform and stops splittist activities.

Wang Zaixi, vice-minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Jia's overture represents the basic stance and political perspectives of the new generation of Chinese leadership headed by President Hu Jintao on major issues in cross-Straits relations.

The address of Jia offers many "new ideas and strategies of the new State leadership for developing cross-Straits ties and settling the Taiwan question," Wang told a later press conference to elaborate on Jia's speech.

Despite his call for cross-Straits talks, Jia strongly warned against "escalating Taiwan independence activities," citing Chen's proposed "constitutional re-engineering project" as "the most dangerous and destructive."

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