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    Precondition for Talks? No Way!

Taiwan President: Leave Unification

September 2, 2000   Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Taiwan's president urged China on Saturday to start a dialogue with the island, but to leave the issue of reunification for future generations to resolve.

Proposing to put aside the dispute on Taiwan's political status, Chen Shui-bian said the governments should not impose their wills on the Chinese people.

``In 30 or 50 years, the situation across the Taiwan Strait may be entirely different, and reunification may no longer be an issue,'' Chen said, addressing a new committee established to advise the president on China.

``We should have the next generation in our minds when tackling the issue,'' he said.

Since the Communist Party took over China in 1949, Taiwan has refused to be ruled by Beijing, which has threatened to attack if the island seeks independence or indefinitely postpones reunification.

Chen, once a supporter of independence, has taken a more conciliatory stance toward China since taking office in May. But he has refused to commit to reunification, saying it is a choice to be made by the Taiwanese people.

Addressing the same meeting, Lee Yuan-tseh, a chemist and Nobel laureate who heads the president's advisory committee, said the Taiwanese are afraid that reunification with the dictatorial China would bring political suppression.

``Many of us believe we are Chinese, but this is not to say we will compromise on our yearnings for freedom and democracy,'' Lee said.

``The social base for reunification is in fact very fragile at the moment,'' he said. ``In the future, we hope we can jointly establish a peaceful, prosperous and democratic China.''

China's leaders have said they won't meet with Chen until he agrees that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. Chen says he would discuss any topic, but would not accept the precondition for talks.

Chen renewed his offer for dialogue on Saturday.

``As long as we free ourselves from the walls being built around us, we will be able to put aside differences and seek consensus,'' he said. 


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