Oct 15, 2004

Taiwan: Taiwan prepared to wait patiently for China's Change of Heart

Taiwanese officials have remained calm despite China's angry rejection of President Chen Shui-bian's peace overtures.
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Taiwanese officials have remained calm despite China's angry rejection of President Chen Shui-bian's peace overtures.

The island's top policy-maker on Mainland China Affairs says Taiwan is prepared to wait patiently for a change of heart from mainland China.

It has been six years since Taiwan and mainland China came together for any official cross-strait talks.

The two sides last met in October 1998 in Shanghai, the talks represented by Chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Wang Dao-han and Chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation Goo Chen-fu.

Prior to that meeting, the two men also led the historic Wang-Goo Talk in Singapore in 1993.

Although China rejected President Chen Shui-bian's latest call to renew dialogue again, Taiwan remains hopeful that both sides will find an amiable solution and create a win-win situation for people across the strait.

Joseph Wu, chairman of Mainland Affairs Council, said: "The 1998 meeting will not be the end of talks. I believe a lot of people hope that the two chairmen can meet for the third time. In order to expedite this moment, I will like to wholeheartedly invite Mr Wang Dao-han to come to Taiwan and visit his old friend."

Mr Wu said that if both sides can sit down and talk again, everything is negotiable, even the One China principle.

Mr Wu said: "As long as there's consensus among the 23 million Taiwanese, we're not excluding developing any forms of relationship with mainland China. I think Beijing has noticed our goodwill on this issue."

But political observers remain skeptical that talks will ever resume.

They say Chinese officials will not believe that President Chen is prepared to drop his pro-independence stance and accept its One China principle.

Chang Wu-yueh, Professor in Political Science at the Tamkang University, said: "One should respect the historical facts as well as the political reality. Mainland China and the rest of the world must understand that the Democratic Progressive Party, whether as an opposition or a ruling party since 2000, never had any consensus on the One China principle."

Analysts say it'll be naïve to think that one speech by President Chen will lead to a complete turnaround in the cross-strait situation.

They say if both sides are willing to sit down and negotiate sucessfully on next February's Lunar New Year charter flights, it's already considered an encouraging sign.

Source: Channel News Asia