Taiwan, China Begin Semiofficial Talks, First on Taiwanese Soil
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Chinese and Taiwanese officials met on Taiwanese soil for the first time today, compelled by booming trade and cultural ties to hold talks despite their 45-year standoff.
Never before has Taiwan opened its borders to representatives from Beijing, except for private, personal visits. Yet the two have been meeting on a semiofficial basis since April, with all but one of the encounters in China. The first was in Singapore.
Today’s talks drew protests from Taiwan’s independence movement. Taiwan went its own way in 1949 when it became the last refuge for the Nationalist Party after Communists took over mainland China.
Since then, the island off China’s southeast coast has developed one of the world’s fastest-growing industrial and export-oriented economies.
Both countries still regard Taiwan as a part of China and seek reunification, on their own terms.
Protesting at the meeting site were about 200 supporters of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which wants Taiwan to abandon its claim on China and declare independence.
Waving banners saying ″One Taiwan, One China,″ they scuffled briefly with riot police. No injuries were reported.
For now China and Taiwan aren’t trying to resolve their refusal to recognize each other, just to regulate unofficial relations rooted in their shared culture and, more recently, boosted by booming trade.
The talks, to last six days, touched on what to do with the 12 hijackers of nine airplanes from China to Taiwan this year.
Taiwan had refused to return the hijackers who have all requested political asylum. China claims some of the hijackers are criminals fleeing not political repression, but police or debts.
″We tried to seek a resolution,″ said Sun Yafu, head of the 11-member Chinese delegation of the semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. ″The meeting went on in a nice atmosphere.″
His Taiwanese counterpart, Shi Hwei-yow, indicated Taiwan offered to eventually return hijackers with dubious claims to political asylum. China wanted all hijackers back in 15 days except in ″special cases,″ he said without elaborating.
Previously, China had demanded all hijackers be returned immediately without exception. The Chinese delegation includes five government officials who act as advisers.