May 28, 2004

Taiwan: Taiwan invites China's envoy for cross-strait affairs for talks

Taiwan has extended a fresh olive branch to China by inviting its top envoy for cross-strait affairs to visit the island
TAIPEI : Taiwan has extended a fresh olive branch to China by inviting its top envoy for cross-strait affairs to visit the island.

The invitation comes just a week after Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian vowed, during his inauguration speech, to work closer with Beijing.

Taiwan's invitation to Mr Wang Daohan, Chairman of the Chinese Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), was issued by the island's newly sworn-in top decision maker on China policies.

Mr Joseph Wu, Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said: "Whoever you want to meet, I am more than willing to make arrangements for you. Whatever you want to discuss, we are open to the topics. Wherever you want to go, I believe all Taiwanese welcome you wholeheartedly."

Mr Wu had pledged to adopt peaceful means to improve relations between the two sides, and to resume bilateral dialogue.

His offer to Mr Wang includes a meeting with Mr Koo Chen-fu, Chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation.

The two men held a series of landmark talks that started in the mid-80s, but these stopped a decade later after Beijing objected to then Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the United States.

The two senior statesmen met again in 1998, but talks were suspended a year later after Mr Lee angered Beijing by describing cross-strait relations as a special state-to-state relationship.

Political analysts in Taiwan said a fresh Wang-Koo meeting would be beneficial to both sides, but they are not hopeful that the invitation will be accepted.

Professor Emile Sheng, Political Science Department at Soochow University, said: "China has repeatedly asked Taiwan to embrace the One-China principle as a pre-requisite for the resumption of dialogue.

The island has so far turned down this demand, insisting that there should be such no pre-requisite.

Analysts said Beijing was unlikely to accept Taiwan's invitation.

China, they pointed out, has just branded as "sham" conciliatory gestures that President Chen Shui-bian expressed during the inauguration for his second term of office.

China has also accused the Taipei government of trying to internationalise Taiwan's case for independence by playing for sympathy from other countries.

Source: Channel News Assia