Taiwan's president-elect ready to resume peace talks with China

( dpa ) - Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou said Friday that Taiwan is prepared to resume peace talks with China if Beijing accepts that China and Taiwan are two separate countries.

Ma made the statement following reports that US President George W Bush, in a telephone conversation with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday, had urged China to resume dialogue with Taipei, and Hu had said the two sides can resume talks under a 1992 consensus.

"The Bush-Hu talks is supported to have released goodwill towards Taiwan, but I needs to find out more," he said.

"If both Beijing and Washington can accept the 1992 consensus, it will have great significance for Taipei-Beijing ties." he said.

Ma said he hoped to hear to know the exact words Hu had used because China's official Xinhua news agency had quoted Hu differently in its Chinese and English news releases, with different interpretations of the term "one China."

In the Chinese version, Hu said China was willing to resume talks with Taiwan under the "one China" principle. But in the English version, Hu was quoted as saying China and Taiwan can resume talks if Taipei and Beijing accept that there is one China.

In unofficial talks held in Hong Kong in 1992, Beijing and Taipei officials agreed there is one China, but different interpretats of what "one China" means.

China insists that there is one China, of which Taiwan is a part, but Taiwan claims that, historically, there was one China, but China has been split since 1949 and will unite in future.

The Hong Kong agreement became known as the "'92 consensus," which China has never openly acknowledged, for fear that some Taiwanese may use it to justify that Taiwan is a sovereign country.

Taiwan and China split at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Following the unofficial talks in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China held their first dialogue in Singapore in 1993 which was followed by a dozen rounds of talks held within the framework of the dialogue.

China halted the talks in retaliation for former president Lee Teng-hui's advocating of Taiwan independence on a trip to the United States.

After Ma, who leads Taiwan's opposition Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT), won the March 22 presidential election, he immediately announced his intention of seeking peace with China.

It is not clear if China wants to resume the dialogue, and under what conditions the dialogue can be resumed.

The KMT said Friday that China should make a written statement to clarify its understanding of the '92 consensus and that Taiwan is ready to resume talks with China after Ma is sworn in on May 20.

A public opinion poll showed Friday that the majority of Taiwanese want Taiwan to maintain its status quo.

The poll of 1,068 people conducted by the Mainland Affairs council showed that 91.1 per cent want to maintain Taiwan's status quo and 81.7 per cent are opposed to China's "one country, two systems" model for Taiwan's unification with China.

The survey also showed that 89 per cent of respondents support Taiwan's opening air and sea links with China, provided it is done on an equal basis and Taiwan's security is guaranteed.

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