[IWAR] TAIWAN/CHINA talks sitrep

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Tue Jan 20 1998 - 10:25:41 PST

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    Tuesday January 20 8:16 AM EST 
    Taiwan Spurns Beijing's Offer of Talks
       By Andrew Browne
       BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Tuesday offered political talks with Taiwan
       as soon as possible and said there were no conditions but Taipei
       immediately scorned the invitation as old rhetoric.
       "We hope the two sides can start formal political talks as soon as
       possible," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang told a news briefing.
       "We believe there are no pre-conditions for these talks."
       However, Shen swiftly added: "One China is not a pre-condition because
       it is a fact recognized by both sides of the (Taiwan) Strait. Both China
       and Taiwan both must recognize that there is one China."
       Beijing has always made talks conditional upon Taiwan accepting its "one
       China" principle -- that the only China is the communist People's
       Republic and that Taiwan is part of the mainland.
       Taipei maintains China is divided between two sovereigns represented by
       the People's Republic on the mainland and the exiled Republic of China
       on Taiwan.
       "The so-called one-China principle itself is a pre-condition," said Sheu
       Ke-sheng, vice chairman of the Taiwan cabinet's policymaking Mainland
       Affairs Council.
       "This is something Jiang Zemin always emphasizes," he said, referring to
       the Chinese president.
       At issue is whether Shen's comments represent any softening by Beijing
       on a crucial point of national doctrine, or whether it is simply another
       twist in a bitter polemical argument between the two sides.
       Taiwan's Nationalist government has exercised sovereignty over the
       island since 1949 when it was driven into exile from the mainland after
       its civil war defeat by the communists.
       Three years ago, Jiang offered an eight-point proposal calling for
       landmark political talks to end Taiwan's estrangement from the mainland.
       Taiwan made a fresh appeal on Monday for resuming semi-official talks
       with China.
       The semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation reiterated a November 7
       proposal for a visit to the mainland by its chairman Koo Chen-fu, but
       said it was still awaiting a reply.
       "So far we have yet to receive any official response from you," the
       foundation said in a letter made public in Taipei. "We await your
       Beijing suspended talks between Taiwan's Koo and his Chinese
       counterpart, Wang Daohan of the Association for Relations Across the
       Taiwan Strait, in mid-1995 after Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui angered
       China with a private but high-profile U.S. visit.
       Beijing saw Lee's U.S. trip as a bid to promote Taiwan's final
       independence from the mainland -- something it vows to use force to
       Shen denounced trips by Taiwan leaders to Southeast Asia, accusing
       Taipei of taking advantage of economic difficulties in the region to
       spread its influence.
       Taiwan has been wooing troubled neighbors lately with its vast wealth.
       Premier Vincent Siew visited the Philippines last week and went to
       Indonesia on Monday night.
       "Activities by the Taiwan authorities are unpopular and doomed to
       failure," Shen said.

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