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China will shun contacts with Taiwan's leader

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March 4, 2001 

  

BEIJING- (UNB/AP) - Beijing will shun contacts with Taiwan's leader while cultivating his opponents, who back unification with China, China's top government advisory body said Saturday.


The Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress will deal only with people and groups in Taiwan that support union, Chairman Ye Xuanping said in an annual report.


The body will "resolutely oppose any separatist attempts," he told delegates assembled in Beijing's colossal Great Hall of the People next to Tiananmen Square.


Ye also pledged support for Beijing's strategy of punishing hardcore members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement while offering leniency to the rank and file in hopes of splitting them from the group.


The opening of the CPPCC's session kicks off China's political high season and sets the tone for the meeting of the National People's Congress, China's legislature, that starts Monday and runs concurrently.


While largely powerless, the CPPCC helps the Communist Party rally support for its policies and connect the public.


Its 2,266 delegates are drawn from among influential scientists, religious leaders, ethnic minorities, writers and others.


Ye's report appears to signal a continuance of China's strategy of refusing to engage with Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian.


Since his election last spring, Chen has refused to accept China's conditions for talks and says unification with the mainland is just one of many options.


China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing threatens to attack the island if it formally declares independence.


Reiterating government statements issued after the crackdown on Falun Gong failed to end public protests by sect members, Ye warned that the struggle against the group will be "complex, protracted and acute."


China banned Falun Gong in July 1999 as an "evil cult," and campaigned relentlessly to break up its organization, imprison leaders and turn followers against its founder, former government clerk Li Hongzhi, now living in the United States.


"We must support the government in bringing back, educating and redeeming the overwhelming majority of Falun Gong practitioners and severely dealing with a handful of criminals according to the law," Ye said.


During its 10-day session, the CPPCC plans to discuss and adopt proposals to the National People's Congress on China's 10th five-year plan for economic development and a range of social and economic issues.



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