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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 03:30 GMT 04:30 UK
Effort to boost China-Taiwan ties
James Soong, left, on his arrival in China, 5 may
James Soong says he will not act as an envoy for President Chen
A second Taiwanese opposition leader to visit China in a week has reaffirmed that he rejects the notion of independence for the island.

James Soong, of the People First Party (PFP), said both Chinese and Taiwanese were descendants from the same emperor.

"I am here looking for my roots - and I want to build a bridge for the future," he said on his arrival in Xian.

Mr Soong's trip follows a historic visit to China by the leader of the Nationalist Kuomintang party (KMT).

Both the KMT and the PFP favour eventual reunification with the mainland.

Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province and refuses to negotiate with President Chen Shui-bian until he acknowledges that the island is part of China.


Shortly after his arrival, Mr Soong reaffirmed his party's position on the issue.

giant pandas (file picture)
Mr Lien's visit yielded the offer of two giant pandas
"Independence is not the choice of Taiwanese people," he said. "That is the unshakable stance of our party."

After Xian, Mr Soong is due to visit the cities of Nanjing and Shanghai, before a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

Despite sharp differences between Mr Soong and President Chen, the two signed a 10-point agreement on cross-strait ties which Mr Soong says will form the basis of his talks with Beijing.

In that agreement, Mr Chen pledged to maintain the status quo in Taiwan, and not push for the island's formal independence.

Mr Chen recently announced that he had asked Mr Soong to relay a message during his visit to China, leading some analysts to view Mr Soong's trip as that of an unofficial emissary for the Taiwanese president.

But Mr Soong has denied carrying such a message, saying: "I'm not an envoy."

But he added: "I am willing to represent Taiwan people to bring a message of peace."

Warm welcome

Mr Soong himself used to be a key member of the KMT, before founding his own party in 2000.

The PFP and the KMT are currently in an alliance, forming a majority opposition.

The future will be promising if it is achieved through the language of democracy
Rose Lai, Taipei, Taiwan

On Tuesday, KMT leader Lien Chan ended his own eight-day trip to Beijing.

Mr Lien became the first Nationalist party leader to hold talks with China's Communist Party chief since the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949.

The visits of Taiwan's two opposition leaders to China are provoking mixed reactions at home.

Some see the visits as a chance to win Beijing's trust.

But others accuse China of trying to split public opinion, because its treatment of the two opposition heads contrasts with that of Mr Chen.

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