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Sat, May 27, 2000 - Page 3 News List

New talks may begin in October

CROSS-STRAIT TIES The Straits Exchange Foundation said the two sides have exchanged views on new talks, but have not yet agreed on an exact date for the meeting

By Stephanie Low  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Shi Hwei-yow (許惠祐) yesterday predicted that a suspended meeting between the chief negotiators of Taiwan and China may take place in October.

Shi said China's recent reaction to President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) inaugural speech showed that Beijing has softened its stance toward Taipei, but Chinese authorities still need to hold a high-level conference in August to fine-tune their position on cross-strait relations.

"Taking into consideration the pace of the preparatory work, I think the meeting may take place in October -- in the most optimistic scenario," Shi said.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), chairwoman of the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, confirmed that her council has exchanged views with the SEF over the possibility, but said no substantial proposal has been worked out.

"There are different possibilities. If a Koo-Wang meeting is possible, it would be best to hold it after this fall," Tsai said.

Wang Daohan (汪道涵), chairman of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), had initially planned to visit Taiwan last autumn to meet with his Taipei counterpart, SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫).

Wang canceled his trip in protest after former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) announced the so-called "special state-to-state relations" model last July, which Beijing considers a violation of the "one China" principle. China has repeatedly pressed Taiwan to accept the "one China" principle as a precondition for cross-strait talks.

Shi pointed out that the SEF and ARATS had in fact reached a consensus in 1992 to agree to disagree on the definition of "one China," but China has over the years denied this consensus.

Shi said it was impossible for Taiwan to respond to Beijing's demands on the "one China" issue given the political climate in Taiwan.

By calling "one China" a future issue to be handled by both sides of the Taiwan Strait, President Chen's reaction has been a skillful one, Shi said.

Meanwhile, in another possible sign of moderation, Chinese state television quoted Vice Premier Qian Qichen (錢其琛) yesterday as saying China sought "to solve the Taiwan question through dialogue, negotiations and exchange."

It was unclear, however, whether Qian's statement attached the precondition that Taiwan accept the "one China" principle before such dialogue, negotiations and exchange could occur.

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