Taiwan's new top official handling China policy says the island is troubled by growing Chinese military strength, and will seek to ease tensions with the mainland. But he adds that further improvements depend mostly on decisions made in Beijing.

The incoming chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, Joseph Wu, says the island's government plans new efforts to smooth relations with China.

Mr. Wu says President Chen Shui-bian is prepared to make a series of goodwill gestures when he is sworn in for a second term this week.

He says Taiwan's government has already gone a long way to placate Beijing, citing the island's recent easing of restrictions on bilateral trade, the exchange of journalists and various cultural exchanges.

Further improvement, he says, is mostly up to China.

"It takes two hands to clap," said Mr. Wu. "If we try very hard, I am sure there are going to be opportunities, but it needs the other side of the Taiwan Strait."

China views Taiwan as a renegade province that must eventually reunite with the mainland.

The two sides have been ruled separately since the Communist Party rose to power on the mainland in 1949.

Beijing has accused President Chen of making incremental moves toward formal independence. Mainland officials say his plans to amend the island's constitution during his second term is a deliberate provocation toward China.

Mr. Wu says increases in China's military strength are aimed at seeking an armed solution to the reunification question.

"We do perceive the military balance tilting and we do not like the situation," he said.

China has said it wants reunification through peaceful means, although it retains the right to use force if Taiwan declares independence.

Beijing also uses diplomatic means to isolate Taiwan. On Monday, the World Health Organization rejected Taiwan's request for observer status. China insists the island can only be represented in the U.N. agency by Beijing.

Mr. Wu's comments come two days before President Chen begins a second term. On Tuesday, Taiwan's High Court finished a recount of the votes cast in the election, which Mr. Chen won by about 30,000 votes. His opponent, Lien Chan, and his supporters, demanded a recount of the votes.

The court has indicated it could be a month before it makes a ruling on the final vote tally.