Peking bends on talks with Taipei

China extended a lunar new year olive branch to Taiwan last night by softening its stance on conditions for restarting talks with its neighbour.

For the first time, the mainland's chief negotiator with Taiwan, Tang Shubei, said Taipei did not have to recognise the Peking regime as the Chinese government.

The new year, which tomorrow launches the Year of the Tiger, has become the time when both sides offer opening gambits for renewing talks. Earlier yesterday Mr Tang's counterpart, Chang King-yuh, said: "We are ready to resume dialogue. But we want to reiterate such talks must be held with no preconditions and they be resumed through the existing ... channels."