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2004-05-05 22:26:22

    Taipei, May 5 (CNA) Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Vice Chairman Chen Ming-tong called on Beijing authorities to accept pragmatically the existence of the Republic of China in order to create a new era for substantial exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    Chen made the remarks while commenting on a Singapore-based Straits Times report that the Beijing leadership is ready to accept that Taiwan has existed as a separate entity since 1949. "We recognize that reality but this does not amount to us giving up on the 'one-China' principle," the report quoted Li Jiaquan, founder and, until his retirement in 1994, head of the influential Taiwan Research Institute, as saying. "Based upon the short-term goal set forth by the Guidelines for National Unification, both sides of the Taiwan Strait should not deny the existence of either side as a political entity in the 1990s, " Chen said, adding that Beijing authorities should keep in touch with the times and throw away their outdated ideology. "Even the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) recognizes the existence of the ROC in its resolution on the future of Taiwan, Beijing's being ready to accept the existence of Taiwan as a separate entity demonstrates that mainland China's thinking has been out-of-date, " Chen stressed.

    Chen further said that the MAC, the highest agency in charge of charting Taiwan's policies toward the mainland, will continue to step up cross-strait exchanges in an effort to increasing mutual understanding, despite Beijing's reluctance to face the reality of the existence of the ROC.

    Commenting on the same report, Cabinet spokesman Lin Chia-lung said that it is improper to construe a scholar's remarks as Beijing's official stance, but that the government will keep a close watch on the developments of this issue.

    Should Beijing authorities have the intention to improve cross-strait relations, they should not boycott Taiwan's bid to join the World Health Organization this year, Lin went on.

    In response to the Straits Times report, DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan dubbed Beijing's intention to accept the existence of Taiwan as a separate entity since 1949 as a good beginning but declined to make further comments as he didn't read the full text of the interview.

    For his part, Chang Jung-kung, director of the opposition Kuomintang's mainland affairs department, said that it might be one of the measures formulated by the mainland prior to Taiwan's March 20 presidential election, not Beijing's new idea following the election.

    Nevertheless, Chang said that the government should be prudent in dealing with relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

    Lin Chih-chia, secretary-general of the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union, said that Taiwan is really an independent country, and exhorted Beijing to renounce its "one-China" principle so that both sides can engage in bilateral talks on an equal footing.

(By Luis Huang)


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