Hu woos DPP, floats military co-operation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 January, 2009, 12:00am

Cross-strait thaw accelerates

President Hu Jintao has for the first time called for political talks and military co-operation with Taiwan to end the hostility between the two longtime adversaries, in yet another effort to boost cross-strait ties which are improving rapidly.

Also for the first time, Mr Hu appealed directly to Taiwan's main opposition political party to give up its pro-independence stance and come back to the negotiating table.

He also gave positive signals about Taiwan's wish to participate in international organisations.

'Both sides across the Taiwan Strait can engage in practical discussion about political relations under the special condition that the nation has not yet united,' Mr Hu said as he offered six proposals to promote the relationship.

Mr Hu was giving a keynote speech to mark the 30th anniversary of 'A Message to Compatriots in Taiwan', issued by the national legislature on January 1, 1979.

'In order to stabilise the situation across the Taiwan Strait and reduce concerns about the military and security, the two sides can also engage at a proper time in exchanges on military issues, and explore setting up a mutually trusted military and security mechanism,' he said.

Taiwan's military welcomed the message and said it was ready to talk with the mainland. 'We are glad to see such a development and the [Taiwanese] Ministry of National Defence has already started working out proposals - including short-term, medium-term and long-term ones - in this regard,' ministry spokeswoman Lisa Chi Yu-lan said in Taipei.

Setting a conciliatory tone, Mr Hu said everything was negotiable under the 'one China' principle, which is recognised by Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang but rejected by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.

The principle asserts that there is only one China, which is made up of the mainland, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau. It excludes any possibility of a sovereign power existing separately in any of these places.

'As long as the 'one China' principle is recognised by both sides ... we can discuss anything,' Mr Hu said.

If the DPP changed its 'Taiwan independence attitude and gives up splittist activities', Beijing would response positively, he said.

Beijing has refused to engage the DPP, particularly during the presidency of Chen Shui-bian which ended in May.

Mr Hu also said the mainland was willing to discuss with Taiwan proper and reasonable arrangements for the island to participate in international organisations - as long as this did not create a scenario of two sovereign states.

In Taiwan, DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said Mr Hu's demand for the party to relinquish its pro-independence stance as a precondition for communication was against the principle of democracy.

Ms Tsai said a democratic society should allow different voices and be open to all kinds of political ideas.

The DPP later issued a three-pronged response to Mr Hu's overture. It asked Beijing to respect the party's political stance and said the mainland government should respect Taiwan people's freedom of choice. It also said the two sides should open dialogue without any preconditions.