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World Briefing / China

Beijing says it's ready for talks with Taiwan

March 05, 2009|Times Wire Reports

China is ready to talk peace with Taiwan, Premier Wen Jiabao said in a new overture to the neighboring self-ruled island it claims as its own.

China was "ready to create conditions for ending the state of hostility" with Taiwan, Wen said in the text of his work report, given on the first day of China's annual parliamentary session.

China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring the island under mainland rule, by force if necessary.

But ties have warmed since mainland-friendly Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May, and the two sides have signed deals to enhance tourism and business.

Meanwhile, China announced a nearly 15% rise in military spending -- a smaller boost than in previous years.

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