New formula "two sides, one China"

A visiting Taiwanese opposition leader said Thursday that Chinese communist leaders agreed that military conflict with Taiwan can be "effectively avoided" so long as the self-ruled island doesn't pursue formal independence.

James Soong made the comment after becoming the second Taiwanese opposition figure in a month to meet with Chinese President &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Hu Jintao, whose government is trying to discourage Taiwan from trying to make its independence permanent.

Soong and Hu also issued a joint statement pledging to work together to promote an end to hostilities between the two sides, which split in 1949 amid civil war. Beijing claims the island as its own territory and has threatened to take it by force if necessary, informs ABC News.

At a news conference, Soong said that during his visit, he and Communist Party leaders agreed that "as long as Taiwan authorities do not pursue Taiwan independence a conflict across the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Taiwan strait could be effectively avoided."

According to Reuters, the new "two sides, one China" formula was an apparent attempt to accommodate Taipei's desire to be seen as Beijing's political equal and not just a Chinese province, paving the way for an end to a stalemate in one of Asia's worst flashpoints.

Beijing has claimed Taiwan as Chinese territory since the losing Nationalists fled there at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and insists the self-ruled, democratic island must be returned to the fold, by force if necessary.

Without mentioning him by name, Chinese leader Hu Jintao made a fresh offer to open a dialogue with Chen, one week after President Bush had urged Hu by telephone to try again to open talks.

"Regardless of person or political party and regardless of what he or it has said or done, we are willing to hold talks on developing cross-Strait relations so long as he or it recognizes the 'one China' principle and the 1992 consensus," said Hu, who is both president and Communist Party chief.

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