Chinese president demands 'one-China'

Despite conciliatory overtures from Taiwan's newly elected president, Chinese President Jiang Zemin demanded on Monday that the island recognize it is part of China as a precondition for any negotiations.

In his first public comments since Chen Shui-bian's election on Saturday, Jiang said Chen could come to China for talks and that "we may also go to Taiwan," China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

But Jiang said, "negotiations across the Taiwan Strait should have a basis, namely, the one-China principle must first be recognized."

"Under this prerequisite, everything can be discussed," Xinhua paraphrased Jiang as saying in a meeting with Congolese President Denis Sassau-nguesso.

Jiang's comments, which reiterated long-standing Chinese demands, could dampen prospects for a quick resumption of talks between China and the island it claims as a renegade province.

For talks under the one-China principle, Taiwan would first have to recognize that it and China are inseparable parts of one nation. Although Chen says he's willing to talk to Beijing about it, he does not accept the one-China principle and has refused to let agreeing on it be a precondition for talks.

Chen said Monday that Taiwan could discuss any issue with China, but only if both sides treat each other as equals and "as long as the one-China topic is not taken as an issue or principle."

Beijing distrusts Chen because his party favors declaring Taiwan formally independent of China. Beijing has warned of war if Taiwan does that or if it indefinitely resists talks on reunification. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949 and Beijing says they must one day reunify, by force if necessary.

Chinese leaders and academics had warned Taiwanese voters against voting for Chen. But his victory was hailed Monday by veteran Chinese dissident Ren Wanding, who said it "will go down in the annals of the Chinese nation's development of democracy."

In a letter to the president-elect, Ren called Chen's Democratic Progressive Party "an example to democratic parties on the mainland."

Ren urged China's communists to move toward democracy and ease the way for unification with Taiwan. He also appealed to Chen "to consider the common fate and benefits of peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait" by inspiring democracy on the mainland while not reigniting civil war between the island and Beijing.

Despite concerns that Chen's victory will further unsettle the tense China-Taiwan relationship, the main indexes for China's two stock exchanges - in Shanghai and the southern city of Shenzhen - rose 2.5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, Monday in the first day of trading since the election.

Some shares benefited from optimism over comments by Chen that he wants to reduce barriers to China-Taiwan trade and travel.

Following the election, Chinese authorities in Fujian province, facing Taiwan, issued orders to prevent attacks on Taiwanese investors, a state-run newspaper reported on Monday.

Although the China Business Times did not say so, the order appeared aimed at stopping any overt displays of public anger over Chen's win. It said that following his election, students and teachers in at least two Fujian universities held discussion meetings to express their "resolute opposition to Taiwan independence."

In their directive, Fujian authorities said activities which infringe on the rights of Taiwan businesspeople "will certainly be punished severely without mercy the moment they are discovered," the newspaper said in a front-page story headlined: "Taiwan businesspeople need not fear."

Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese live and work in China, many in Fujian and other provinces along China's eastern seaboard. Taiwanese investment in China is estimated at dlrs 30 billion, supporting millions of jobs.

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