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Taiwan's President Offers Talks with China


Taiwan's Nationalist Party Chairman Lien Chan, left, toasts with Taiwan Affairs Office Director Chen Yunlin during a banquet in Shanghai, China
As Taiwan's leading opposition figure wraps up his historic tour of China, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian is taking a conciliatory line toward Beijing.

President Chen Shui-bian says Taiwan is open for dialogue with Beijing at "any time." But he emphasized it must be on the basis of "democracy, peace and parity."

Mr. Chen's comments came as Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan wrapped up a landmark eight-day visit to China, where he met with senior Chinese officials.

In Shanghai, Mr. Lien said peace between the two sides is within reach and Taipei should seize the opportunity, as Beijing now appears open to dialogue.

Analysts say the warming relations between Taiwan's largest opposition party and the Chinese leadership are aimed at isolating President Chen and his pro-independence party.

Last month, Beijing passed an anti-secession law authorizing its military to invade the island if it resists peaceful reunification and moves toward independence.

President Chen, on a visit to the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, called for a military consultation system between the two rivals as a way of easing tensions.

Mr. Lien also told Taiwanese businessmen in Shanghai that the Nationalist Party would push for greater economic cooperation with the mainland -Taiwan's largest trading partner.

He said his party would act to improve trade without waiting for the leaders of Taiwan and China to make the move.

On Friday, Mr. Lien became the first Nationalist Party head to meet with a Chinese communist president since the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in defeat after the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Another Taiwan opposition leader, James Soong, is scheduled to visit China this week.