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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Press sees Taiwan-China visit risks
Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan and wife
Taiwan opposition leader Lien Chan salutes well-wishers in Nanjing

Chinese state-run newspapers welcome the visit to the mainland of Lien Chan, the leader of Taiwan's Kuomintang opposition party, whereas Taiwanese papers accuse him of taking international pressure off Beijing over its controversial Anti-Secession Law.

The official Beijing China Daily strikes a conciliatory note, saying Mr Lien's visit opens a "fuzzy way" to dialogue between the two governments without dealing with contentious issues head-on.

"It can carve out 'separate interpretations' and build an atmosphere conducive to inter-party interaction and mutual benefit, aid, cooperation and peace. This will break the stalemate and facilitate understanding, hopefully leading to a 'major breakthrough'," it says.

The Communist Party's Renmin Ribao suggests that the pro-independence Taiwanese governing Democratic People's Party should follow Mr Lien's example and "abandon past hatred... for the sake of cross-straits peace".

It sees this as a "win-win situation" that could stop the DPP from being "hijacked by separatist forces" allegedly led by ex-president Lee Teng-hui, who is an outspoken advocate of Taiwanese independence.

'Abandon independence'

Renmin Ribao also uses another argument popular in the Chinese press, namely that Taiwanese public opinion is turning against independence and "yearning for the peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations".

"Therefore, the only way for the DPP to get out of its current difficulties is to readjust itself, adopt a pragmatic attitude, abandon its 'Taiwan independence' doctrine and shift its position towards the '1992 consensus'. Now is a good time to do so," says the paper.

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao focuses on the international dimension, and sees the ostensible US approval for Mr Lien's visit as concealing concern that it will strengthen China.

"Although the US approves of it in words, it is not happy about it at heart... The strategic shock wave triggered by Lien's mainland visit will pose a severe test for the US Taiwan policy," it says.

Endless disputes

Taiwanese papers see little worth in Mr Lien's visit.

The China Post says that Mr Lien has agreed not to discuss any thorny issues such as the Anti-Secession Law, which threatens Taiwan with military attack if it declares independence.

It calls on him to insist that China should respect Taiwan's constitutional system and "bluntly tell Beijing that its 'one country, two systems' formula as an offer for Taiwan's reunification with the Chinese mainland has no market here".

It hopes he can come up with a formula to break the deadlock, but is not optimistic.

"Otherwise, Taiwan and the mainland will inevitably remain mired in endless sovereignty disputes and political contentions," it says.

1,000-year opportunity

The United Daily News shares the China Post's scepticism, and says that the "pompous scenes of Mr Lien's visit cannot conceal its inherent frailty from observers on both sides of the straits".

While wishing him well on his "once in a thousand-years opportunity" for reconciliation, the paper sees the China-born Mr Lien as little more than the poignant "last connection between the past and future" as the outgoing head of the powerless Kuomintang.

Taipei's China Times looks at the international dimension, and suggests that China is taking a risk in extending a head-of-state-level reception to Mr Lien.

China allowed him to enter the country on a Taiwanese "Republic of China" passport, which "shows that the Chinese government recognizes the Republic of China as an equal political entity".

If China refused to afford a Taiwanese president a similar courtesy it would become an "international joke, and would tell people on both sides of the straits that Beijing has no sincerity in peacefully solving the Taiwan issue".

'Public enemy'

The Liberty Times is more forthright in condemning Mr Lien as a "public enemy" who is "conniving with the dictators and making China's democratization even harder to achieve".

It also accuses him of deflecting mounting international pressure on China over the Anti-Secession Law, while the Taipei Times says that recent clashes between Mr Lien's supporters and opponents at Taipei airport showed that he had allowed China to "insinuate itself further into Taiwan's domestic disputes".

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.

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