Wed, May 04, 2005 - Page 1 News List

China cool on Chen's invitation to Hu

NEW MANEUVERS The president's invitation to Hu Jintao was to witness Taiwan's free, democratic lifestyle, but an official's response was not gushing

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TARAWA, KIRIBATI, WITH AP

Suspected gangsters dressed in black T-shirts are escorted away by police after allegedly trying to foment violence at CKS International Airport yesterday.

PHOTO: LIAO CHENG-HUI, TAIPEI TIMES

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday invited Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to visit Taiwan to experience democracy and freedom and to see "if Taiwan is a country with independent sovereignty."

China reacted coolly to Chen's invitation, however, rejecting any official contact until the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) dropped a clause in its charter calling for formal independence.

"Conditions for dialogue and consultations between us and Chen Shui-bian as well as the Democratic Progressive Party is recognition of the 1992 consensus, which embodies the `one China' principle, giving up the Taiwan independence party constitution of the DPP, as well as putting an end to splittist activities,'' said Wang Zaixi (王在希), an official at the Chinese Communist Party's Taiwan Work Office.

"So long as these conditions are met, we can resume dialogue and consultations with Chen Shui-bian and the DPP," Wang said.

Speaking hours before the return of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) to Taipei from China, Chen said he also wanted Hu to consider whether the "1992 consensus" actually existed.

"If there is not such a thing, I would like the Chinese leaders not to mention it anymore," he said.

Chen said the purported consensus between envoys from Beijing and Taipei -- preparing for talks between late Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and his counterpart, Wang Daohan (汪道涵) -- was not recognized by Taipei.

"The `1992 consensus' is a term created by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in April 2000. The Chinese government took advantage of it for its own propaganda in cross-strait policy," he said.

Chen said the Chinese leadership did not understand Taiwan and had been invited on more than one occasion to visit Taiwan.

"I am not worried if he [Hu] comes. I am only concerned that he might refuse to come. If he visits Taiwan, Hu will understand what 23 million Taiwanese people really want," he said.

Chen was responding to reporters' questions on whether he would ask People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (陳水扁) to invite Hu to Taiwan.

On the third day of his trip to the Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Chen said he had invited Chinese leaders to visit Taiwan many times since he took office in 2000.

Taiwan is a free country, Chen said, adding that Hu could ask any questions he liked and conduct surveys on what the public thinks if he came.

But Chen yesterday urged the public not to worry about the recent pro-China sentiments of pan-blue camp leaders and their visits to China. He instead asked the Taiwanese people to vote for their preferred National Assembly candidates on May 14.

But during the press conference, the trips to China by Lien and Soong were the focus.

"Again, I would urge my fellow Taiwanese to relax, because they do not have to worry about Lien and Soong or any other politicians' possible trips to China," he said. "Those pro-China people are not my worry. What I really worry about is the election on May 14."

Chen urged the public to support the DPP so that the National Assembly could cut in half the number of legislative seats, reform voting structures and ultimately replace the assembly with referendums.

Chen said these three goals were negotiated and agreed to by all the major parties. However, he said, "some of these parties" changed their minds after the legislative elections in December.

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