Taiwan premier raises hopes for compromise on Olympic torch route


TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese premier Chang Chun-hsiung said Friday that comments from a Chinese official on the island’s place in the 2008 Olympic torch route are “acceptable,” raising hopes for a compromise on the issue.

Beijing Olympics Committee vice chairman Jiang Xiaoyu said China splits the route into internal and external categories and that Taiwan is external.

The distinction is important because when Taiwan rejected its proposed inclusion in the route in April, it did so because positioning decreed by the Beijing committee made it appear to be part of Chinese territory.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Chang said Jiang’s comments were positive.

“It is acceptable that Beijing is calling Taiwan an external part of the route,” he said.

Later, the head of Taiwan’s body responsible for China policy said the two sides are negotiating on the torch route, and progress had been achieved.

“In the past month the parties have reached some consensus on the torch route,” said Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Chen Ming-tong. “I urge Beijing to sign an agreement on the issue without introducing extraneous considerations.”

Chen did not elaborate.

The torch controversy reflects the wrangle over Taiwan’s status, which has been going on since the two sides split amid civil war in 1949.

The Taiwanese government of President Chen Shui-bian objects to any attempt to label Taiwan as part of China, but Beijing insists the island is part of its territory, and has threatened to go to war if it moves to formalize its independence.