Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 1 News List

DPP rejects Hu Jintao's 'olive branch'

'SPLITTIST' The Chinese president promised goodwill gestures if the Democratic Progressive Party recognizes its ‘one China’ policy and drops its independence bid

By Rich Chang and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH AGENCIES

Chinese President Hu Jintao, center, sits with Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, left, and Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, as they attend the 30th anniversary of a “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, yesterday.

PHOTO: ANDY WONG, AP

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday rejected an offer from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), after he appealed directly to the DPP for the first time to give up its stance on independence, offering an olive branch to Taiwanese seeking representation in international bodies.

Hu, in a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of Beijing's “open letter to Taiwanese compatriots,” yesterday called for a pragmatic approach to the political relationship to ease concerns over tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

“As long as the ‘one China’ principle is recognized by both sides ... we can discuss anything,” Hu told a gathering of the Communist Party elite at the Great Hall of the People.

If the DPP gives up “splittist activities” and “changes its attitude,” it would elicit a “positive response,” Hu said.

China and Taiwan could at a proper time begin contacts and exchanges on military issues and explore a mechanism to build trust on military matters, Hu said.

He vowed to maintain already flourishing business ties.

In response, the DPP said in a press statement that Taiwan is a sovereign state, and its sovereignty belongs to the nation's 23 million people; hence, Taiwan's future must be decided by its people, which is the DPP’s fundamental position and mainstream public opinion in the country.

In a democracy, nobody has a right to ask people to give up any position. China must recognize that fact, it added.

The statement said the major question between Taiwan and China is not what position the DPP advocates, but what comes to mind when Taiwanese think about China.

Most Taiwanese think of the military threat, diplomatic oppression, the economic draw and the various methods China uses to localize Taiwan's government, it said.

Because China has ignored the real feelings of Taiwanese, it remains impossible for Taiwan and China to develop sincere, harmonious relations, it added.

The statement said if the Chinese government wanted to have talks with the DPP, it should not ask the party to change its position first. Real talks can only be started without any preconditions.

In the speech, Hu also said he understood Taiwan's desire to take part in “international activities,” but stressed that China would not tolerate any move that suggested independence.

“We understand the Taiwanese public's feelings on participating in international activities, and we attach great importance to related issues,” Hu said.

“We can have realistic negotiations to reach a reasonable approach for the issue of Taiwan participating in the activities of international organizations as long as it is not on the premise of two Chinas, or one China, one Taiwan,” he said.

With about 170 diplomatic allies to Taiwan's 23, China has continually blocked Taiwan's bid to join the UN or affiliated organizations.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the US switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, as well as Beijing's announcement that it would stop shelling Kinmen and that its policy toward Taiwan would shift from “liberation” through military invasion to “peaceful reunification.”

The Presidential Office yesterday welcomed Hu's comments.

“Our cross-strait policy has proved popular and been supported by the Taiwanese public and international community,” Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said.

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