Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Rice urges Beijing to reduce tensions

CLEAR MESSAGE Labeling the `Anti-Secession' Law an `unwelcome' piece of legislation, the secretary of state said that China should engage in dialogue with Taiwan

CNA AND AFP , TAIPEI AND BEIJING

Members of pro-democracy associations in Tainan gather yesterday to burn the Chinese flag and scarecrows representing Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.

PHOTO: YANG JIN-CHENG, TAIPEI TIMES

Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Beijing at a news conference yesterday to take steps to cool tensions that have flared across the Taiwan Strait since the passage of the "Anti-Secession" Law, describing the law as an unwelcome piece of legislation.

Noting that cross-strait issues should be resolved by the two sides in a peaceful manner, Rice said that any unilateral moves that increase tensions are not helpful and that the Anti-Secession Law is not helpful in reducing cross-strait tensions.

Earlier in the day, Rice met with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing (李肇星) for a talk.

Rice reportedly told Li that the US' "one China" policy and its commitment to the Three Communiques remain unchanged, but the obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act demand that the US make clear to both parties that unilateral moves are not helpful.

Reiterating Washington's concerns over the development of cross-strait relations, Rice stressed that cross-strait differences must be resolved peacefully.

"As for the anti-secession legislation, I said to my Chinese hosts that we would hope that this would be be something that, after having made dialogue across the Straits [sic] more difficult, that they would take steps to reduce tensions now with Taiwan," Rice said.

"The United States is not pleased when either side tries to change the status quo," she said, adding China should make moves to "show goodwill" in its relations with Taiwan.

For his part, Li told Rice that Taiwan remains the biggest challenge in Beijing-Washington relations and whether this issue can be properly handled will directly affect how US-China relations unfold.

"China hopes that the US side will adhere to the `one-China' policy ... and avoid any words or deeds that may aggravate the existing tense cross-straits [sic] situation," Xinhua quoted Li as saying.

Chinese leaders also reiterated their position that the :"Anti-Secession" law was aimed not at war, but at peaceful unification with Taiwan.

The law's passage last week showed "the resolve and sincerity of the Chinese mainland in developing cross-Strait relations and safeguarding peace in the region," Xinhua quoted State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan as saying.

Rice was to leave Beijing late yesterday at the end of her six-nation Asian tour that has also taken her to India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea.

Lai Ching-teh (賴清德), a legislative whip of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said that the DPP caucus saluted Rice's determination to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the way she had conveyed US opposition to a possible lifting of the EU's arms embargo against China.

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