China on Wednesday hinted that talks with rival Taiwan could happen once the island’s president-elect, Ma Ying-jeou, takes office in mid-May, but stopped short of directly confirming what could be landmark discussions.
Ma, whose Nationalist Party favours closer ties with China, won last month’s presidential election by a landslide. China has claimed the self-ruled island as its own since defeated Nationalist forces fled there at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
China has refused to have anything to do with current President Chen Shui-bian, whom it accuses of pushing formal independence for Taiwan. China has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Li Weiyi, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, was asked at a news conference whether conditions would be right after May 20 — when Ma takes office — for talks.
Read also China official praises meeting between president, Taiwan vice president elect by AP and an editorial from the Christian Science Monitor which questions whether Beijing’s newfound goodwill toward Taiwan could be extended toward the Tibetan government-in-exile:
By refusing to talk to Tibet’s Dalai Lama, China has set itself up for yet another protest of the Olympic torch run, this time in India. But in contrast, China’s top leader held talks last Saturday with Taiwan’s incoming vice president. Does that receptivity to negotiations give hope to Tibetans?
That depends on whether Beijing follows up on its breakthrough talks and apparent new goodwill with Taiwan, a “breakaway” island it regards as an official region of China as much as landlocked Tibet is in reality.