Sun, Apr 17, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Government cautious over China invite

INDIRECT MESSAGE In a response to an indirect invitation extended by a Chinese official in a Xinhua interview, the DPP said China should first stop threatening Taiwan

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government waved off an invitation from Beijing urging the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to send an agricultural delegation to China, saying that the proposal would not be seriously considered until Beijing ceased its threat to use "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan.

In an exclusive interview with government mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency that was published online late Friday night, Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said that it welcomed any political party or representative delegation that wanted to visit China, including the independence-leaning DPP.

"We welcome interaction and exchange with any political parties, delegations, or representatives from Taiwan ... As for whom we meet with, we have no preference," TAO head Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) said in the interview.

However, Chen loaded the invitation with several conditions and caveats, clarifying that it would meet with Taiwanese delegations that recognized the "1992 Consensus" and opposed Taiwan's independence. The DPP holds that the "1992 Consensus" did not exist as a concept until it was coined by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 2000.

Chen also pinpointed the "Taiwan's independence clause" (台獨黨綱) in the DPP's party platform as the primary hindrance to possible discussions with Beijing, but indicated that membership in a political party would not be the sole determining factor for an invitation. He made clear that Beijing's arms remained open for DPP members who did not support Taiwan's independence.

"We draw a distinction between members of the DPP and the stubborn few who insist on Taiwanese independence," Chen said in the interview, welcoming the former to visit China.

Chen was responding to Xinhua's question: "We've noticed that the Taiwanese media seem to think that Chinese authorities are only willing to work with Taiwan's opposition parties. Is this true?"

Giving examples of Beijing's sincerity in wanting to meet with DPP representatives, Chen also said that Beijing had already extended invitations, across party lines, to the mayors of several Taiwanese cities, including Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Tainan, to participate in an annual summit to take place in China in October. He stressed that party affiliation had not been a consideration in these invitations. The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) responded yesterday that it was in the process of assessing these invitations.

Chen's remarks came just as the administration scrambles to safeguard its role in cross-strait dialogue in the face of opposition KMT Chairman Lien Chan's upcoming trip to China. Officials have warned on several occasions that allowing an opposition party to handle state affairs in lieu of the government will "de-governmentalize" cross-strait interaction to Taiwan's detriment.

MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday responded to Chen with a few conditions of his own yesterday. He said that the government would seriously consider Chen's proposals when "Chinese authorities show respect for the fact that Taiwan is a democratic, pluralistic society, and if they vow not to use any `non-peaceful' moves in resolving the `Taiwan problem.'"

He explained that what Taiwan does not want to see is the polarization of society, but rather Beijing's commitment to democracy and peace.

Wu also ridiculed the TAO's habit of relaying its stance via late-night articles on the news sites of state media.

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