Top negotiator invited to Taiwan
Jacky Hsu in Taipei
Taipei shrugs off Beijing's reaction to its peace offer
Taiwan has invited the mainland's top negotiator to visit the island, just a day after Beijing spurned President Chen Shui-bian's latest peace overtures.
Joseph Wu Jau-shieh, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, said the eyes of the world were on the prospects of a third, politically symbolic meeting between Taiwan's Koo Chen-fu and his mainland counterpart Wang Daohan. The two men represented their respective sides in landmark talks in 1993 and 1998.
Mr Wu's comments came a day after Beijing rejected peace overtures made by Mr Chen in his Double Tenth national day address.
'The river of history has continued to flow and the year 1998 was not the end of the historic talks between the two sides,' Mr Wu said. '[I] believe people across the Taiwan Strait are hoping for the third meeting between Chairman Koo and Director Wang.'
Mr Koo, head of the government-funded Straits Exchange Foundation and Mr Wang, of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, met in Singapore 11 years ago.
The two met again in Beijing in 1998. But the mainland stopped all talks with the island a year later, after then-president Lee Teng-hui infuriated Beijing by redefining cross-strait ties as 'special state-to-state relations'.
Despite Wednesday's harsh mainland response by Zhang Mingqing, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, Mr Wu said he saw hope of a cross-strait reconciliation given that Beijing needed a peaceful outcome to help it resolve internal problems.
He said Mr Zhang had expressed the mainland's hope of strengthening cross-strait exchanges, co-operation and mutual trust, which, he said, was also what Taiwan hoped for.
Mr Wu said the mainland's permitting Hong Kong to issue a working visa for the island's de facto envoy to Hong Kong, Pao Cheng-kang, as well as its willingness to send criminals back to the island, showed Beijing did not want to close its doors on Taiwan.