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Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 05:06:13 +0800
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
From: E Phillip Lim <alsona@PACIFIC.NET.SG>
Subject: Fwd: SG + CN: China accepts 'Taiwan form of democracy'...

China accepts ‘Taiwan form of democracy’

By Sunny Goh, The Sunday Times, 17 January 1999

CHINA has no objection to Taiwan developing its own form of democracy or identifying its people as New Taiwanese, so long as these moves stabilise its society.

But Beijing will oppose strongly any political change that steers the island away from reunification, a visiting senior Chinese official said in Singapore yesterday.

Mr Zhang Mingqing, a board member of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats), told a press conference that the fundamental cross-strait issue was not about institutional or democratic changes but over peaceful reunification based on a one-country, two-systems policy.

After reunification, China will proceed with its socialism path using Chinese characteristics while Taiwan can carry on with what the Taiwanese wanted, he said.

Neither side would impose its social systems on the other. Neither side would swallow the other up.

Mr Zhang, the head of a six-member delegation visiting Singapore for a week, added that it was important for Arats president Wang Daohan to discuss substantial political issues during his impending trip to Taiwan.

Taiwan has always said that we should put aside political issues but the recurring obstacle has been political in nature, so it must be resolved, he said.

On Taiwan's three-in-one election last month, Professor Chen Kongli, a delegation member, said the failure of Mr Chen Shui-bian in defending his Taipei mayoral seat showed the opposition Democratic Progressive Party must adjust its pro-independence stance.

On the emergence of a New Taiwanese generation, he said that the idea was a laudable one as it gave the people a common identity, thus reducing the differences between mainlanders who flocked to the island and native Taiwanese.

However, he expressed concern that it might be used to distinguish between people in China and Taiwan.

This will create an unhealthy 'us' versus 'them' mentality, which is no good for people from the same country, he said.

On the recent visit by Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng to Taiwan, he said this was not a wise move.

Wei has violated Chinese laws yet Taiwan treated him as a democracy hero, so we feel that his visit does not help cross-strait relations.