Fri, Jul 29, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chinese official sticks to his guns as he visits the US

PAVING THE WAY Tang Jiaxuan told a friendly audience of encouraging talks on regional matters, though the 'Taiwan issue' broke no new ground

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

China's top foreign policy official, Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇), met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Tuesday but did not break any new ground in talks on Taiwan, the US State Department said.

And, in a speech after the meeting, Tang gave no hint that Beijing would soften its stance on conditions for talks with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) or his government.

Tang's visit to Washington was in preparation for a summit visit that Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) is likely to make in September, but Tang's meeting with Rice did not confirm details of the Hu trip, such as the date or whether he would be invited to US President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.

During the meeting with Rice, Taiwan was discussed, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"They did touch upon Taiwan and I think that it's safe to say they didn't break any new ground on that issue," McCormack told a press briefing. "Both sides reiterated their long-standing and well-known positions."

Both sides called the meeting a good one, which discussed trade and economic issues, the Korean nuclear situation, intellectual property rights and Hu's upcoming trip. The current wrangling in Washington over the value of China's currency did not come up, McCormack said.

In his speech to two pro-China organizations after the Rice meeting, Tang reiterated Beijing's demand that talks with the Chen government had to be conducted on the basis of the "one China" principle and the so-called "1992 consensus."

However, in a seeming effort to downplay demands by senior Bush administration officials that government-to-government talks with Taiwan be held without preconditions, Tang denied that Beijing's insistence on the "one China" principle and the "1992 consensus" were preconditions.

Responding to a question, Tang said "I don't think that this is a kind of precondition. This is obviously an objective fact, because there is only one China in the world and there is a 1992 consensus. This is not a precondition."

In his speech, he also slammed Chen for refusing to meet Beijing's demands.

"Peaceful reunification and `one country, two systems' remains our basic policy," Tang told the luncheon, sponsored by the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council.

"Though we can see some signs of relaxation and emergence of some positive factors in cross-strait relations, the Taiwan authorities to date have refused to recognize the one-China principle, and the `Taiwan independence' forces are still pushing their agenda of `constitutional reengineering,' `name rectification' and other `de jure independence' activities."

"The source of threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits [sic] still exists, making it impossible for cross-straits [sic] relations to improve steadily," he told the receptive audience, heavily made up of business representatives and others who stand to profit from closer US ties with China.

Tang praised Bush's statements reaffirming US commitment to "one China" and what he described as Bush's "opposition" to Taiwan's independence.

"We hope that the US side will earnestly honor these commitments and join the Chinese side in opposing and checking `Taiwan independence,'" he said.

A press release issued by the Chinese embassy after the Tang-Rice meeting made the same points, pledging that China would "oppose and deter" Taiwan's independence, and expressing the hope that "the United States will keep its commitments to China" on the Taiwan issue.

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