TAIWAN'S new President, Chen Shui-bian, extended an olive branch to Beijing yesterday by acknowledging the goal of a 'future 'one China' ' and by pledging not to declare independence. And while Beijing criticised Mr Chen for being 'insincere' and 'evasive', it made a concession in terms of conditions for reopening talks between the unofficial bodies representing the two sides. Diplomatic sources in Beijing and Taipei said the reaction from the mainland was mild and that there were no signs that troops along the coast would hold manoeuvres in the foreseeable future. 'It is likely [President] Jiang Zemin will at least extend the period of 'weighing Chen's words and watching his actions' for some time,' one Beijing-based diplomat said. In his inaugural speech at the Presidential Palace, Mr Chen said he would not declare independence, change the island's official title or seek a referendum on Taiwan's status during his term in office if the mainland did not attack Taiwan. The 10th president of Taiwan promised not to rewrite the constitution to include the 'two states' theory championed by his predecessor, Lee Teng-hui. 'As long as the Chinese Communist Party regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office I will not declare independence,' he said. Equally important, he promised he would stick to the 1991 National Reunification Guidelines and not abolish the National Reunification Council. Under the guidelines, Taiwan accepted that 'both the mainland and Taiwan areas are parts of Chinese territory' and recognised the goal of national reunification. But Mr Chen refused to give a direct answer to Beijing's insistence that he give unqualified support to the 'one China' principle. 'While upholding the principles of democracy and parity . . . we believe that the leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a future 'one China',' he said. The Democratic Progressive Party leader also acknowledged the common bond between Taiwan and the mainland, saying people from both sides 'share the same ancestral, cultural and historical background'. A statement issued last night by the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party's Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said Mr Chen's address 'avoided the crucial issue of accepting the 'one China' policy; the attitude is evasive and vague'. The two offices criticised Mr Chen for relegating the goal of unification to some distant future. 'Obviously, his 'goodwill reconciliation' lacks sincerity,' the statement said. 'Still less should he have refuted the reality that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China by saying one China is something in the future.' But the statement said it was possible for the two unofficial bodies - Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) and Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) - to reopen talks based on a consensus reached between the two bodies in Singapore in 1992. The statement said that a dialogue between ARATS and SEF was possible if Taipei dropped Mr Lee's 'two states theory' and honoured the 1992 consensus that: 'The two sides will express in their own way orally that 'both sides across the straits stick to the 'one China' principle'.' A Chinese source said that Beijing had made a concession by returning to the principle of 'one China, however interpreted by both sides'. As late as last month, officials in charge of Taiwan affairs said such a principle was never reached in Singapore. 'It is true that unlike the Kuomintang, Chen and his DPP colleagues have not accepted the 'one China, however interpreted' principle, but Beijing's gesture has made future negotiations more flexible,' the source said. Taiwan's stock market closed 3.28 per cent lower after being unimpressed by Mr Chen's speech.