Chen to send DPP negotiators to mainland China

Hsieh Kuo-lien,The China Post

President Chen Shui-bian said yesterday he will pave the way for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials to visit to mainland China as soon as he doubles as the DPP chairman on Aug. 1. Accompanied by Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i, Minister of National Defense Tang Yiau-min, Chen and more than 50 media executives visited Tatan, a remote isle lying near both the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and the southeastern mainland province of Fujian. Describing Taiwan and the mainland as neighbors, Chen said that “We can invite each other to have a cup of tea at our homes.” Chen, who enjoyed tea at the Shenchuan tea shop in Tatan with the officials and executives, invited mainland Chinese leaders to visit Tatan. Chen said that “If they are interested in such a meeting, I am willing to invite them to chat and have a cup of tea at this Shenchuan tea shop.” Chen said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have to resume negotiation in an effort to minimize mistrust. “Taiwan and mainland China have to resume negotiations. It’s the only way to reduce misunderstanding and misjudgment,” suggesting strained cross-strait ties are beneficial to neither Taipei nor Beijing. “The first step to help resume the talk is to exchange visits by officials across the Taiwan Strait,” the president said. Chen says he will endeavor to help DPP officials visit the mainland as soon as he starts to double as the DPP chairman on Aug. 1. Chen anticipates that Beijing will allow director of the DPP’s mainland Chinese affairs department to head a delegation to the mainland. Please see CHEN on page

He says that the DPP officials’ trip is aimed at enhancing the two governments’ understanding and helping his party reach “amicable settlement” with the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing has kept a close eye on officials with the pro-Taiwan independence DPP, especially Chen, after he defeated the Kuomintang presidential candidate Lien Chan in the 2000 presidential election. The president went on to say that “I have served as ROC president for almost two years, while mainland China’s new leader is also going to take office.” The man is mainland Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao, who is the mainland’s heir apparent to the leadership. “Whether or not the new mainland Chinese leader has the determination and capability to conduct negotiation with Taiwan, we have been ready for such negotiation.” “We also hope mainland Chinese leaders to accept our gestures of goodwill with an open mind,” the president added. “I believe that the two sides’ leaders would eventually open up the cross-strait ‘opportunity windows’ with patience, perseverance, wisdom and creativity.” Nonetheless, Chen has said Tuesday that it would be quite difficult for Taiwan to have expect a breakthrough in the bilateral ties if the 59-year-old Hu Jintao takes over as the mainland’s leader. Chen said in the press interview that Hu might still not have the final call on Beijing’s policy toward Taipei, as there would be influence from other mainland Chinese officials. The mainland considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has pledged to unify the country, by force if necessary. In his speech, the president said that “Normalization of Taiwan and mainland China’s relations is the foundation for permanent peace in the Taiwan Strait.” “And the normalization of the cross-strait ties must begin with normalization of the bilateral economic and trading relations.” “Meanwhile, the first step to promote cross-strait political integration should also start from economic, trading and cultural integration.” “We will never alter this policy,” Chen said. The president stressed that “The three direct links are essential for both Taiwan and the mainland.” “The ‘mini three links’ pave the way for ‘three direct links.’ Currently, the priority task is to make use of the direct links to benefit residents on both Kinmen and Matsu.”