President Chen Shui-bian (
However, Chen said that no conditions should be set before any interaction, and that the dialogue should not be confined to a specific time period or location.
Chen made the offer during a banquet given in his honor by Taiwanese expatriates in the southern Florida city as he received a human-rights award from the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus via teleconference.
He said that he fully understands that the world community is expecting Taiwan and China to re-open dialogue in order to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
"But I have to earnestly remind the world community that the problem between Taiwan and China is in no way simply a problem of `A' working with `B' to jointly manage and maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait," he said.
"A basic problem in current cross-strait relations is that China has been avoiding dialogue with the president who was democratically elected by the Taiwanese people and the elected government," he said.
Worse still, Chen said, China was deploying more missiles targeting Taiwan and had passed an "Anti-Secession" Law to justify the use of force.
Chen said he appreciated that the Bush administration had asked Beijing to resume dialogue with him and his government.
He said that the message sent by the administration was a show of respect for democratic Taiwan and defended the value of human rights.
"It highlighted the fact that the basis on which cross-strait issues are tackled must have a consensus of support from the 23 million people of Taiwan," he said.
Chen also said that he envisaged a democratic Taiwan that upholds the value of human rights, co-existing with a democratic China, and that the relationship would be mutually beneficial.
"In my mind, I have a beautiful vision for cross-strait relations," he told the banquet participants, in which a "Taiwan of democracy and human rights" could live in peace with a "China of democracy and human rights," and bolster the prosperity of both.
Based on this vision and on an analysis of the world situation, Chen said he wanted to express his sincerity and goodwill once more to "the leader across the Strait," and invite him to shake hands and hold a rational dialogue so that a "window of opportunity for cross-strait peace and democracy" could be opened.
In Taipei yesterday, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Chang Jung-kung (
"If President Chen won't give up his `one country on each side' stance, how is it possible for him to get China's leader to talk to him?" he asked.
According to Chang, the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait are unable to resume contact. The reason behind this, he said, was "universally known."
Chen apparently issued the invitation as a positive response to US President George W. Bush, who in an earlier meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) expressed the hope that cross-strait dialogue could take place between the Taipei and Beijing governments.
"Anyone who understands the current situation in cross-strait relations would know that what President Chen said was just some empty words," Chang said.