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CHEN INVITES CHINESE PRESIDENT TO VISIT TAIWAN

ROC Central News Agency

2007-05-11 14:27:53

    Taipei, May 11 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian extended an invitation during an interview with a U.S. media outlet Thursday to Chinese President Hu Jintao to visit Taiwan, saying that his invitation to Hu does not come with any conditions.

    In an interview with Bloomberg reporters James Peng and Stephen Engle, Chen said that Hu "wouldn't have to acknowledge Taiwan's sovereignty as a condition for accepting my invitation to visit."

    It was the third time that Chen extended an invitation to Chinese leaders to visit Taiwan or offered to meet with Chinese leaders since 2000, when he proposed a cross-strait summit with Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin. In 2001, Chen offered to meet with Jiang in Hong Kong. China ignored both overtures, according to a report carried at Bloomberg.com Friday.

    Meanwhile, discounting an earlier Bloomberg report describing Taiwan's stock market as "the world's worst performer since 2000, " Chen said that next year will be much better, adding that "before the 2008 presidential election, our stock market will have a great performance," according to Bloomberg.

    Chen predicted in the interview that the Taiwan bourse will rise as much as 11 percent next year, saying that "I believe and expect that in the latter half of this year, the stock market will climb to 8,500 or even 9,000 points."

    Chen defended his administration's handling of the economy in the interview and said that Taiwan couldn't be compared with higher-growth places such as China and Hong Kong.

    He said Taiwan had pretty good economic performance last year, with a growth rate of 4.6 percent, which he said was better than his government had expected.

    He stressed that Taiwan suffered from two curbs on higher growth, namely domestic political turmoil, including months of anti-government demonstrations calling for the president to resign over corruption allegations, and China's efforts to "marginalize" Taiwan on the international stage, according to Bloomberg.

    The president said that the China market is huge and attractive, but Taiwan cannot afford to put its economic lifeline and all its resources in a single market. "We cannot afford to become a subsidiary," Chen was quoted as saying in the interview.

    Chen rejected calls for the government to loosen restrictions on Taiwan companies investing in China, saying that "the issue is not whether we should loosen the investment cap, the issue is that Taiwan's investment in China is too high. It's not normal."

    He said an opposition politician or a businessperson may choose to ignore the existence of 988 ballistic missiles deployed on the southeast coast of China and aimed at Taiwan, but "as the president of Taiwan, you can't pretend that these missiles don't exist."

(By Deborah Kuo)

ENDITEM/Li



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