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Taiwan and China in War of Words - 2004-05-24


China is blasting Taiwan's president, accusing him of showing no sincerity in efforts to improve cross-straits relations.

The remarks by China's government set a hostile tone for the second term of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.

At his swearing-in ceremony last week, Mr. Chen sounded a conciliatory tone, saying he would work to improve relations with China. However, Zhang Mingqing, spokesman for the Chinese cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office, on Monday called the gesture insincere.

Mr. Zhang says the Taiwanese leader's speech implies he has not given up the intent to move toward independence. The spokesman went on to say that if Mr. Chen were sincere, he would recognize that Taiwan and the mainland are part of the same country.

China considers Taiwan - which has been self-governed since 1949 - a part of its territory, and threatens to attack the island if it does not move quickly toward reunification.

President Chen's political party has advocated independence, although the president has distanced himself from that stance.

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