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China Calls for Talks with Taiwan - 2002-11-08


Taiwan is welcoming a call to resume talks with political rival China but the island's government is rejecting any conditions. China's president made the offer in a speech to the Communist Party Congress.

A spokesman for Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, Chen Ming-tong, says the government has been in favor of restarting talks for a long time but not if it must make concessions before discussions even start.

Mr. Chen urges China to stop threatening to attack Taiwan because "force is not a good way to develop a relationship."

Earlier Friday, in a speech opening the 16th Communist Party Congress in Beijing, outgoing Chinese President Jiang Zemin said the two sides should put aside their political differences and resume talks.

But President Jiang also repeated China's long-standing position that Taiwan must agree that it is a province of China, not an independent country, before talks can start.

Taiwan rejects that "one-China" position.

President Jiang also said he would not renounce the use of force to recover Taiwan, which China regards as a rebellious province that should be returned to Beijing's control.

Taiwan split from the mainland when the defeated Nationalists fled to the island after losing a civil war to the Communist Party.

While neither side changed its basic position, some analysts say Mr. Jiang's milder-than-usual tone may signal a chance to make progress in bridging the differences between the two governments. They suggest President Jiang may be trying to burnish his legacy by making headway on the difficult Taiwan issue.

Mr. Jiang heads a generation of Chinese leaders expected to begin turning over power to younger leaders over the next week at the Communist Party Congress.

In the opening address to the Congress, President Jiang urged his nation to quadruple its economic output and allow business people to join the Communist Party.

That change will require the party to modify its basic rules, something that is expected to be done during the meeting. Party Congresses convene about every five years to set policies and formally approve leaders to carry them out.

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