Taiwan rejects China's overture

May 13, 2005 at 8:40 AM
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TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 13 (UPI) -- Taiwan's president has rejected an apparent diplomatic overture from his Chinese counterpart in the run-up to a key election in the island republic.

China's Hu Jintao agreed to open talks if Taiwan accepted the principle of "two shores, one China" while acknowledging that the two sides might differ on precisely what that term meant, the Washington Post reported Friday.

But within hours, Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian rejected the proposal, which Hu made Thursday during a televised meeting with opposition Taiwanese politician James Soong. Chen has criticized Soong's visit to Beijing as disloyal and counterproductive.

Chen also noted Hu's comments made no mention of the "Republic of China," as Taiwan is called, or the role Taiwan's 23 million residents should play in determining the island's future. And his allies downplayed Hu's communique.

"It's one step forward, but we have a long way to go," said Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, a former mainland affairs official in Chen's government who now teaches at Tamkang University in Taipei. "We have new terminology, but the old issues and problems remain."

Taiwan holds key National Assembly elections Saturday.

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