Mon, Oct 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

President calls for cross-strait dialogue

NATIONAL DAY ADDRESS Chen suggested that a 1992 meeting in Hong Kong between Chinese and Taiwanese officials could form the basis for the two sides to meet

By Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian waves to the public in front of the Presidential Office after making a speech at the Double Ten National Day Rally yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

In a highly-anticipated speech yesterday, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) suggested both sides of the Strait could use a 1992 meeting in Hong Kong as the basis to return to the negotiation table for a new round of cross-strait talks.

Stating that the governments and people on both sides of the Strait hold different views on many issues, some of which is due to a lack of communication, Chen said he is willing to take the initiative.

He proposed both sides use the basis of a 1992 meeting in Hong Kong, to seek possible formats that are "not necessarily perfect but acceptable," as a step toward resuming the long-stalled negotiations.

In the address, which was delivered at the Double Ten National Day rally in front of the Presidential Office, the president also proposed that both sides seriously consider the issue of "arms control" and adopt concrete actions to reduce tension and military threats across the Taiwan Strait.

"In the long term, both sides should formally end the state of hostility across the Taiwan Strait and establish confidence-building measures through consultations and dialogues," Chen told his audience.

"Furthermore, we should review the armament policies of both sides and seek to establish a Code of Conduct across the Taiwan Strait (海峽行為準則) as a tangible guarantee of permanent peace in the Taiwan Strait."

Response to China

Chen had previously said that his National Day speech would be a response to a May 17 statement issued by the Chinese Communist Party and the Beijing government's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Beijing's May 17 statement included points on a resumption of cross-strait dialogue, realizing direct and "three links" to facilitate exchanges in commerce, trade and transportation, and establishing a mechanism of mutual trust in the military field.

Reiterating that he would honor commitments and principles set forth in his second-term inaugural speech on May 20, Chen yesterday also called on leaders from both sides of the Strait to adopt a new frame of mind and approach in addressing future cross-strait issues.

"If both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment engendered upon `peaceful development and freedom of choice,' then in the future, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China -- or Taiwan and China -- can seek to establish political relations in any form whatsoever ? so long as there is the consent of the 23 million people of Taiwan," Chen said.

He added that cross-strait relations are not necessarily a zero-sum game and there will never be a winner unless it's a win-win situation for both sides.

Chen also pledged to invite leaders from all political parties -- after the legislative elections are complete -- to collaborate on establishing a Committee for Cross-strait Peace and Development (兩岸和平發展委員會) and deliberate on other national issues, such as constitutional reform.

On cross-strait economic and trade issues, Chen said the government is formulating a plan that provides a "convenient and efficient means to facilitate chartered flights for passengers and cargo."

"It is our earnest hope that cross-strait consultations can begin as soon as possible, so as to seek further progress in the Three Links policy," he said.

Self defense

While extending goodwill toward Beijing, Chen, however, also stressed the necessity for the nation to maintain a self-defense capacity, pointing to the increasing number of missiles China is aiming at Taiwan.

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