Chen Shui open to dialogue with China
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian on Sunday left open the possibility of dialogue with China to normalise relations between the two rivals as the island’s opposition leader wrapped up a historic visit on the mainland.
“No matter which individuals or which political parties China prefers, it eventually has to approach the leader of Taiwan and the ruling party of Taiwan,” Chen told reporters before flying off to visit three small South Pacific allies.
“This is the right channel to open political dialogue, to normalise bilateral relations,” he said.
Chen was commenting on the visit by Lien Chan from the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) who met with Chinese President Hu Jintao for historic talks on Friday. The meeting came after decades of hostility between the two sides that fought a civil war for control of China.
The leaders from the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party pledged to seek cross-strait peace and expand economic ties while together opposing formal independence.
The KMT, which fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war to the communists, favours friendly ties with the mainland. It lost its 51-year grip of power on the island when Chen, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was first elected president in 2000.
Taiwan’s Vice President Annette Lu, Premier Frank Hsieh and other leading DPP members have condemned Lien and threatened to take legal steps against him for possibly overstepping his powers in talks with the Chinese president.
“There certainly are different points of view between political parties but we all have to put the interests of the country above those of individuals or political parties. Consensus should be reached at home,” Chen said before flying to the Marshall Islands on the first leg of a five-day trip that will also take him to Kiribati and Tuvalu, with a stop in the US territory of Guam. afp