China May Nix Taiwan Talks

Ratcheting up tensions after Taiwan scrapped its "one-China" policy, Beijing has reportedly decided to call off plans for an senior envoy's visit to the island that had offered hope for restarting talks between the two sides.

TaiwanÂ's United Daily News reported Monday that Chinese President Jiang Zemin personally decided to cancel Wang Daohan's visit to Taiwan, tentatively scheduled for October.

Jiang informed U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth of his decision during Roth's weekend visit to Beijing, the newspaper said, quoted an unidentified official in Beijing.

China's official Xinhua News Agency added to doubts that Wang would visit in an editorial Monday.

Â"If the one-China principle is denied, then the foundation doesn't exist for cross-strait contacts, exchanges, dialogue, and negotiations,Â" the news agency said.

Taiwanese officials said they still hope Wang will visit.

Â"At this time, we haven't received any news through any formal channelsÂ" about a cancellation, said Shi Hwei-yow, deputy to Wang's Taiwanese counterpart, Koo Chen-fu.

But in calling for relations between China and Taiwan to be conducted on a state-to-state basis, TaiwanÂ's President Lee Teng-hui was probably responding to domestic political conditions rather than deliberately provoking Beijing, reports CBS News Asia Bureau Chief Bruce Dunning.

Lee stopped short of declaring Taiwan an independent nation. That is BeijingÂ's line in the sand: China has repeatedly warned that it would attack Taiwan in order to enforce the policy that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of it.

With presidential elections next March, Lee came closer to declaring independence than any Taiwan official ever has. His KMT Party – dominated by nationalists who fled Communist China - has ruled Taiwan since 1912.

His opponents from the DPP Party generally represent the so-called Taiwan natives opposed to rule by any mainland regime. Their power and appeal is increasing, and Lee, a native Taiwanese himself, needs to respond to this desire for independence if his KMT is to hold on to the presidency.

During the last election campaign, Beijing test-fired rockets in waters close to Taiwan to frighten voters. The United States sent two aircraft carriers into the Strait of Taiwan to remind the Chinese that Washington still supports TaiwanÂ's autonomy.

The U.S., which has joined a chorus of nations recognizing Beijing as the head of a single China, says it is up to the authorities on both sides to peacefully settle their differences.

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