US official tells China to deal with Taiwan govt

Associated Press

Manila, May 5:

A top US official urged China today to deal directly with the elected government of Taiwan. While the visits of Taiwanese opposition leaders to Beijing were a positive development, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert B Zoellick said it wouldn’t surprise him if the Chinese were trying to “foster division in Taiwan.”

“That’s why it’s important, obviously, for Beijing to deal with the elected government as well,” Zoellick said. James Soong, head of Taiwan’s second-largest opposition party, the People First Party, became the second Taiwanese opposition leader today to visit China in less than a week. “The need would be for Beijing to talk to the elected government in Taiwan,” Zoellick said.

Zoellick, speaking during his first visit to Southeast Asia since taking up the post in February, said the United States has “encouraged both sides to pursue a process of reconciliation and their own credible course. But we respect the elected government of Taiwan as the person that speaks for the Taiwanese people,” he said. Still, he welcomed the opposition leaders’ visits.

“The parties are talking, and (that’s) better than the anti-session law that splits them apart,” Zoellick said, referring to a law Beijing’s legislature passed in March authorising the use of force against the island if it makes its de facto independence permanent.