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China, Taiwan Hold Economic Talks - 2001-09-07

China and Taiwan held high level talks Friday for the first time since Taiwan's recent offer to drop barriers to investment on the mainland. The finance ministers from both sides said they had good discussions, but announced no breakthroughs.

After closed-door discussion, China's Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng told journalists the two sides have "a lot of common ground" on economic issues. Mr. Xiang said the two sides outlined their respective domestic economic situations, and would have more discussions later.

Taiwan's Finance Minister, Yen Ching-chang appeared with his Chinese counterpart at the brief meeting with journalists, and echoed the upbeat tone of his comments.

The meeting is the highest level contact between Beijing and Taiwan since late August when the Taiwan government endorsed a plan that would radically increase trade and business ties.

A key advisory panel called for removing limits on the size of investments that can be made by Taiwan businesses on the mainland and moving toward an "aggressive" policy of opening up business. The experts also said Taiwan's government should seek talks with Beijing on opening direct trade, transport and postal ties.

Such links were blocked for decades after the Nationalist government lost the Chinese civil war and fled to the island about 100 kilometers off the Chinese coast.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of China and says it will use force if necessary to reunite the two sides politically. China gave a cautious welcome to Taiwan's move toward economic integration, but says there will be no direct trade links until Taiwan recognized the "one-China" principle, essentially admitting it is a renegade province that properly is part of China.

The meeting between officials from China and Taiwan took place on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministers' meeting in Suzhou. That's where top economic officials and finance ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific nations are gathered trying to reverse a global economic slide toward recession.