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China Invites Taiwan Officials, but not President Chen - 2002-01-30


China says when it invited members of Taiwan's ruling pro-independence party to the mainland last week, the offer did not include President Chen Shui-bian.

A spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs office, Zhang Mingqing, says Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Annette Lu can not come to China unless they renounce their pro-independence stance.

Mr. Zhang says Taiwan's President Chen is part of the "small minority" of members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party who are "separatists," and they can't come to China till they accept that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.

This has been China's central condition for talks on future reunification, one that has been repeatedly refused.

The deadlock became more entrenched in May 2000, when the DPP was elected to power on a platform that allowed for the possibility of full independence for Taiwan.

China responded by refusing to acknowledge DPP leaders altogether - that is, until last week when Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen issued an unprecedented invitation to members of Taiwan's ruling party to the mainland for talks.

The invitation is being seen as an opportunity to break political deadlock, despite that fact that China has now made clear it is still not willing to deal directly with President Chen.

Analysts suggest China is being forced to re-examine its Taiwan policy in the light of new economic realities. Not only is Taiwan one of the biggest investors in China, but both sides will be forced to broaden this relationship now that they are new member of the World trade Organization.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since splitting amid civil war in 1949.

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