Chris Cockel, The China Post, Washington D.C.
The government’s uphill struggle to open cross-strait talks looked to be as steep as ever on Monday, as a spokesman for mainland China rejected outright any contact with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or its new chairman, President Chen Shui-bian, unless it abandons the prospect of Taiwan independence. In a rare and not surprisingly wide-ranging press conference at Beijing’s embassy in Washington, spokesman Xie Feng reiterated that it is the DPP’s charter supporting Taiwan independence that stands in the way of official contacts across the Taiwan Strait. “Unless the Democratic Progressive Party forsakes its party platform for Taiwan independence, we will have no contacts with them,” he told reporters. Highlighting the intensity of the mainland government’s posture toward the DPP, Xie stated that Beijing’s policy of refusing contact with the ruling party remains unaffected by the president becoming the party’s chairman. “This doesn’t change our policy toward the Democratic Progressive Party,” he said. As previously stated by mainland Vice Premier Qian Qichen, however, ordinary members of the DPP are free to visit mainland China “in an appropriate capacity” to visit friends, relatives or to tour the mainland, according to Xie. Mainland officials have consistently stated their desire to see the peaceful “reunification” of China to include Taiwan under the “one country, two systems” formula, while at the same time refusing to relinquish the possibility that force may be used to achieve this goal. The use of force is “a last resort … this will only be used when Taiwan declares independence,” said Xie.
When questioned on the purpose of short-range ballistic missiles deployed in Fujian province opposite Taiwan, a concern highlighted recently in two reports to Congress, Xie stated that the “missiles are not aimed at our Taiwan compatriots. They’re aimed at just a handful of die-hard separatists and also aimed at other countries interfering in these internal affairs.” The mainland is not in a hurry to see through their goal of reunification though, according to Xie. “We are patient enough, so long as Taiwan is not moving in the other direction, we have patience to find a mutually accepted way,” he said. There is also no question of President Chen representing Taiwan at the October leaders meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, according to the spokesman. “The representation of Taiwan in APEC has already been solved. Only the leader of Taiwan who is in charge of economic affairs can represent Taiwan as a region of China. So I think it’s very clear, Chen Shui-bian has no qualification whatsoever to attend this APEC meeting,” said Xie. With President Jiang Zemin likely to meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington around the time of the APEC meeting, the mainland government appears confident that the U.S. will approach Taipei according to Beijing’s terms. “We attach importance to the commitments made by the United States on the question of Taiwan; that they will stick to the ‘one China’ policy, abide by the three joint communiques, will not support Taiwan independence and will not encourage the development of Taiwan separatist movements,” said Xie. As such, no so-called fourth communique is needed, according to the spokesman, who also predicted that mainland President Jiang is unlikely to seek such an agreement when he travels to Washington in the fall. “In the past there has been speculation whether China and the United States will have a new communique or the fourth communique concerning the question of Taiwan. The three joint communiques … have already set the guidelines to deal with this very important Taiwan question,” he said. And as well as calling for reciprocation from the U.S. on such things as trade, the mainland will continue to urge Washington to “match words with deeds” when it comes to living up to its acceptance of Beijing’s “one China” policy.