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BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Taipei
"China must first sit down and restart a dialogue with Taiwan"
 real 28k

Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Taiwan courts China
President Chen answers reporters' questions
Chen says progress is possible before the year is out
Taiwan's president has offered to restore direct trade and transport links with China for the first time in more than 50 years.

President Chen Shui-bian said he was hoping for a renewed links by the end of the year if Beijing was willing to enter negotiations regarding Taiwan's status.

We really hope the Chinese communist side can understand that to break the stalemate....needs the joint efforts of both sides

President Chen
His offer follows indications earlier in the week that the Taiwanese Government might allow the restoration of trade links between Taiwan's outlying islands and Chinese cities.

Direct links were banned by the Taiwanese Government in 1949 when China's communists came to power and the nationalists fled to Taiwan following the civil war.

Bilateral talks

"We are willing to push for 'three links' before the end of the year if everybody can sit down, can hold dialogue and can negotiate," Mr Chen told reporters, referring to Taipei's ban on direct trade, transport and mail links.

China's President Jiang Zemin
The Chinese Government insists on a 'one China' policy
Mr Chen renewed an offer to Beijing to resume talks at any time and place with no pre-set agenda.

"We really hope the Chinese communist side can understand that to break the stalemate....needs the joint efforts of both sides," he said. "Refusing to budge is not a way out."

Mr Chen, a member of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, swept to power in presidential elections in March, alarming Beijing which has long threatened to attack if the island declared statehood.

'Soothing words'

But correspondents say Mr Chen has managed to stave off a belligerent Beijing with soothing words, including a promise not to declare independence.

China says that, for ties to move on, Taiwan must embrace its sacred 'one China' policy that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is an inseparable part.

China froze bilateral talks in July last year when then Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui enraged it with a demand for political parity by redefining ties as "state-to-state".

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