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China Rejects Taiwan's Offer to Hold Trade Talks - 2001-12-05

China has rebuffed Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's offer to hold talks following his party's victory in legislative elections. Beijing is sticking to its demand that Taiwan recognize it is a part of China before engaging in talks.

Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Zhang Mingqing says the election victory of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party will not change China's policies toward the island.

Mr. Zhang says the Taiwanese leader's offer to open direct talks with Chinese leaders lacked sincerity. Speaking at news conference Wednesday, Mr. Zhang says China will only hold talks with Taipei if it first accepts the one-China principle which states that Taiwan is a part of the mainland.

Mr. Zhang says that most Taiwanese people oppose independence, and want peace, stability and increased business ties with the mainland. He says Beijing will pay close attention Taiwan's policies toward the mainland after Saturday's election. He warns that any political party that goes against mainstream opinion and advocates independence will be bound to fail.

Mr. Chen's Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, is pro-independence, but the Taiwan president has distanced himself from that platform since he took office a year and a half ago. The DPP won 87 of the 225 seats in Taiwan's legislature Saturday, dealing a blow to the opposition Kuomintang party, which favors reunification with China.

Mr. Zhang says he supports establishing direct trade, transport and communication links across the Taiwan Strait as soon as possible. But he says that talks about direct links can not be held within the framework of the World Trade Organization. Mr. Zhang says that cross-Strait links are a domestic matter that needs to be resolved within China.

Taiwan will soon become a member of the WTO as a separate customs territory of China.