Sun, May 12, 2002 - Page 3 News List

China says DPP is only welcome if it changes platform

REUTERS , BEIJING

Beijing bristled yesterday at Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) plan to send a delegation of negotiators from his party to China, saying they would only be welcome if the party abandoned its pro-independence platform.

An official of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, said Taiwan needed to take "practical and sincere" actions to back up overtures Chen made in a speech on Thursday, the official China Daily reported.

"Delegations of the [DPP] are welcome to visit the mainland, provided that the DPP accept the `one-China' principle and give up its Taiwan independence platform," the newspaper quoted the unnamed official as saying.

Chen's overture was merely an "act" put on for the international community, the Taiwan Affairs Office said in a commentary published by China's official Xinhua news agency.

The commentary said Chen wanted "to cover up his awkward position" after Chinese leader-in-waiting Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) visit to Washington this month, hailed by Hu as a resounding success.

The Xinhua commentary said that Chen "blows hot and cold, behaves capriciously and is a hard man to trust."

But in January, Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen (錢其琛) signalled a softer line towards Taipei, saying only a small number of DPP members were separatists and inviting others to visit China in an "appropriate" capacity.

Chen said he would send a delegation of officials from the DPP to China after Aug. 1 to get deadlocked negotiations between Taiwan and the mainland going again.

"The first step to resume talks is to exchange visits," Chen said.

Chen also said opening direct trade, transport and postal links between Taiwan and China was "a road we must take."

In response, the Chinese official said Sino-Taiwan relations would not improve if Chen went back on his word, the China Daily reported.

Chen's overture came two days after he took a swipe at China's heir apparent Hu, saying it is "very difficult to have excessive expectations" of a breakthrough in bilateral relations if the 59-year-old vice president takes over as China's leader.

Hu is expected to replace President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) as Communist Party chief later this year before assuming the presidency next year.

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