Sat, Sep 03, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Chairman Ma says Hu Jintao `smarter' than Jiang Zemin on cross-strait issues

AP , TAIPEI

In his first interview with a foreign news organization since taking the helm of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Aug. 19, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said he hoped that he would prove capable of bringing Taiwan and China together.

"I certainly will make every effort to achieve that," Ma said on Thursday. "Because only by doing that can we bring eternal peace to both sides."

But Ma said it was not clear how long unification would take.

"It may not be [achieved] in our generation," he said.

Ma said Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) policies toward Taiwan are "smarter" than those of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民).

"[Hu] has learned his lessons, which his predecessor did not," Ma said, claiming that Hu did not try to influence Taiwan's legislative elections last year or the Nationalist leadership race earlier this summer.

Past leaders in China have warned Taiwan not to elect pro-independence candidates.

"I think [Hu] learned not to get involved in Taiwanese politics," Ma said.

Ma also praised Hu for taking real steps to improve China-Taiwan relations, such as cutting tariffs on Taiwanese fruit exports to China and lowering fees for Taiwanese students at Chinese universities.

Such policies were breaking down barriers between the old enemies, Ma said.

"In Taiwan there's a growing consensus that we [should] take a more conciliatory attitude," he said.

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