- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 27, 2005

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton, visiting Taiwan despite China’s warning that his trip could violate Washington’s “one-China” policy, urged the rivals yesterday to set aside their differences and stress economic cooperation.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 amid a civil war, but Beijing considers the democratic, self-ruled island to be Chinese territory. Chinese leaders balk at any actions they think lend support to Taiwan’s government, and Beijing repeatedly has threatened war if Taiwan moves toward formal independence.

China had warned that Mr. Clinton’s one-day visit could violate a policy under which the United States agrees to have no diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognizes Beijing as China’s sole government.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said last week that Mr. Clinton, as former president, should be familiar with “China’s solemn position on the Taiwan question.”

Though this was Mr. Clinton’s first trip to Taiwan since being elected in 1992 to the first of his two terms as president, he had visited the island four times as Arkansas governor, and many Taiwanese are fond of him. Listeners packed an auditorium in Taipei yesterday to hear him.

Mr. Clinton said Taiwanese investors in China were giving hope to Chinese workers and could help reduce the possibility of a conflict between the two sides.

“While our differences are important, our common humanity matters more,” Mr. Clinton said. “The more people have positive things to do, the less likely they are to fall into destructive patterns.”

Mr. Clinton was to have dinner with Taiwanese leader Chen Shui-bian last night, officials said.

Mr. Clinton arrived in Taiwan from Japan. He earlier had visited China after touring areas in southern Asia ravaged by the Dec. 26 tsunami with former President George Bush.

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