Taiwan Rebuffs China's Call for Peace Talks

Despite advances, self-governing island still suspects Beijing
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2009 8:30 AM CST
Wen Jiabao delivers his work reports speech during the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Thursday, March 5, 2009.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – The president of Taiwan dismissed any possible peace talks with China in the near future, saying that tension remains too high to discuss political or military issues. The comment came after Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, called for new cross-Strait discussions at his annual address to the Beijing legislature. "At this stage, we will only talk about economic and trade issues," said the Taiwan president's office.

Cooperation between China and Taiwan has improved dramatically since the election of Ma Ying-jeoh last spring. In recent months, the two sides have introduced direct flights and postal service between the mainland and the island, and the financial crisis may spur both sides to introduce a free-trade agreement. But politically Beijing seems unlikely to alter its belief that Taiwan is part of China, a principle that one Taiwanese professor said "would be political suicide for Ma."