China renews overture to Taiwan to open talks

Associated Press

Beijing, January 28:

A senior Chinese leader today appealed to Taiwan to reopen talks on unification but denounced its proposed constitutional referendum, warning that Beijing won’t tolerate any changes that move the self-ruled island toward formal independence. Jia Qinglin, a member of the Communist Party’s ruling Standing Committee, offered no new initiatives. But he made an effort to sound conciliatory, saying Beijing would negotiate with any Taiwanese leader who agrees that the two sides are “one China” — a condition that Taiwan’s president has rejected. “We’re open on who to negotiate with and what to negotiate,” Jia said at a government ceremony, according to a summary of his remarks read to reporters by Wang Zaixi, a Chinese Cabinet spokesman. The ceremony marked the tenth anniversary of a similar appeal by then-President Jiang Zemin in 1995.

The spokesman said Jia spoke for the “new Chinese government” — a reference to the leadership that took power in late 2002 under Jiang’s successor, President Hu Jintao. Jia criticised what he said was an attempt by Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to promote independence through the referendum proposed for next year. Jia rejected any amendment that might alter Taiwan’s status in relation to China.