China urges Taiwan's DPP to ditch independence bid
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao for the first time appealed directly to Taiwan's opposition party to give up its stance for independence and offered an olive branch to Taiwanese seeking representation in international bodies.
Hu called on Wednesday for a pragmatic approach to the political relationship to ease concerns over tension across the Taiwan strait.
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, its "one China" policy, since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.
"As long as the 'one China' principle is recognized by both sides ... we can discuss anything," Hu said.
If Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) gives up "splittist activities" and "changes its attitude," it would elicit a "positive response," Hu said.
Relations across the Taiwan Strait, once one of the hottest flashpoints in Asia, have improved since the Kuomintang (KMT), or Nationalist Party, was voted back to power. China-friendly Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May, prompting a goodwill gift to the island of two pandas.
China's ruling Communist Party had largely refused to engage the DPP during the presidency of Chen Shui-bian.
China and Taiwan could at a proper time begin contacts and exchanges on military issues and explore a mechanism to build trust on military matters, Hu said.
He vowed to maintain already flourishing business ties.
The DPP reaction to Hu's speech was skeptical.
"The China Communists want to vanquish the DPP. We can't possibly give up Taiwan independence. Taiwan's sovereignty and independence are core values of the party," senior DPP legislator Tsai Huang-lang told Reuters.
Taiwan's presidential office and Mainland Affairs Council did not immediately comment.
Hu said he understood Taiwan's desire to take part in "international activities" but stressed China would not tolerate any move that suggested sovereign independence.
"We understand the Taiwan people's feelings on participating in international activities, and we attach great importance to related issues," Hu told a gathering of the Communist Party elite at the Great Hall of the People.
"...We can have realistic negotiations to reach a reasonable approach for the issue of Taiwan participating in the activities of international organizations as long as it is not on the premise of two Chinas, or one China, one Taiwan."
With about 170 diplomatic allies to Taiwan's 23, China has continually blocked the island's bid to join the United Nations or affiliated organizations.
"It's been quite obvious that when Taiwan wants to enter international organizations on the basis of statehood, China will not allow it," said Shane Lee, professor of political science at Chang Jung University in Tainan, Taiwan.
Thursday marks the 30th anniversary of the United States switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, recognizing "one China," though it remains Taiwan's biggest ally and arms supplier.
It is also the 30th anniversary of China's announcement that it would stop shelling Taiwan's island of Kinmen, or Quemoy, and that its policy toward Taiwan would shift from "liberation" through military invasion to "peaceful reunification."
(Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim and Beijing newsroom, and by Ralph Jennings in Taipei; Editing by Nick Macfie and Bill Tarrant)
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