Sun, Nov 21, 2004 - Page 2 News List

China casts doubt on Hu-Lee meeting

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER, IN SANTIAGO, CHILE

While leaders of China and the US were scheduled to conduct bilateral talks yesterday on the first day of the leaders' summit, President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) special envoy to APEC may not meet his Chinese counterpart, Chinese authorities said.

"I don't know anything about a meeting between President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and his Taiwanese counterpart, Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), and I believe there isn't such an arrangement," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan (孔泉).

Quan made the remark Friday afternoon during a press conference held at the Mario Hotel, where Hu and the Chinese delegation are staying during the event.

Kong sang a hackneyed tune while commenting on China-US relations.

"The Taiwan problem is the primary interest of the Chinese people and the core element of Sino-American relations," he said. "Only if the Taiwan issue is properly handled can Sino-American relations be developed in a healthy manner."

As evidence of healthy China-US relations, Kong said that President Bush had telephoned Hu before leaving for Chile.

"President Bush thanked President Hu for sending telegrams to congratulate him on winning his second term," he said. "He also pledged to continue the development of Sino-American relations for the next four years. In addition, he reiterated the `one China' policy, honored the three Sino-American communiques and opposed Taiwan independence."

He also criticized Taiwan's "independence separatists" for causing instability across the Taiwan Strait, Kong said.

Commenting on the possibility of resuming talks on cross-strait direct transportation links, Kong rudely responded to a Hong Kong reporter who asked the question by suggesting the reporter "buy a plane ticket to Beijing to ask the spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office (國台辦) for an answer" because the cross-strait issue is not the foreign ministry's business.

"Or better yet, you might want to make a phone call now and find out," he said.

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