Vice President Lien Chan said today that in order to discuss the many problems which demand immediate resolution, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should resume the consultations between the Straits Exchange Foundation (Taipei) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (Peking) as soon as possible. The Republic of China has never opposed any particular agenda for the consultations, which have been suspended for more than two years, he added.
The Vice President made the remarks this afternoon when receiving foreign participants in the International Symposium on Political Negotiation between Taiwan and Mainland China.
During the meeting, Vice President Lien reiterated that the ROC has long been a sovereign state and therefore need not declare independence. Neither the so-called "two Chinas" nor "one China, one Taiwan" has been a policy of this nation, he said. However, the Vice President continued, although the ROC has constantly upheld the principle of "one China," both sides of the Strait must face up to the reality that China currently is not yet unified. Peking should not force the ROC to accept its assertions that "One China refers to the People's Republic of China," or that "Taiwan is a province of the PRC."
The Vice President said that cross-strait relations should not be defined by military confrontation, but rather by competition between the two politics-economic systems, which offers all Chinese an opportunity to compare and choose the lifestyle they prefer. "Time is on our side," he said, because freedom and democracy are the trend of the times and the political development experience of the ROC on Taiwan has proven that Chinese people are capable of practicing democracy.
In reply to the question whether face-to-face talks between the leaders of the two sides are possible, Vice President Lien stated clearly that both President Lee Teng-hui and he have repeated their willingness to visit the mainland on the condition that the ROC's dignity is respected. Meanwhile, the ROC has proposed that the leaders from both sides may communicate and exchange views with each other through their participation in international occasions such as APEC meetings, which are less political. So far, Peking has not responded positively, the Vice President said.
The symposium participants who met with Vice President Lien this afternoon at the Presidential Office included: Natale Bellocchi, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan; Lynn White, professor of the Department of Political Science, Princeton University; Jonathan Adelman, professor of the Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver; Marsha Cottam, professor of the Department of Political Science, Washington State University; and Alan Wachman, assistant professor of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. They were accompanied by Director Ger Yeong-kuang of the Graduate Institute of San Min Chu I, National Taiwan University. Deputy Secretary-General Su Chi was also present at the occasion.