03/01/2006, 00.00
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Washington says solution to Beijing-Taipei row found in dialogue

US State Department pleads with both sides to ease tensions after Taiwan's decision to scrap its National Unification Council. "Any person who gets on the wrong side of history is doomed to failure," Chinese president says.

Washington (AsiaNews/SCMP) – US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli reminded China and Taiwan of "the importance of dialogue" in finding peaceful solutions and reducing tensions across the Taiwan Straits. He urged "them to, again, refrain from unilateral acts" that could change the status quo, adding last night that Washington believed that Taipei had not abolished the advisory council on reunification but simply made it "cease to function".

The council was set up by the Kuomintang administration in 1990 to facilitate reunification with mainland China, but for the past six years it had been inactive. The US in any event does not support the island's independence.

The statement by the US State Department spokesman came a few hours after Chinese President Hu Jintao called the move "a dangerous step on the road towards Taiwan independence". "Any person who gets on the wrong side of history is doomed to failure," he told Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid.

The island broke away from mainland China in 1949 at the end of civil war. Beijing considers Taiwan as a "rebel province" while Taipei rules with "de facto independence". Beyond shared cultural, historical and linguistic ties, Taipei and Beijing are united by commerce: their trade exchange has reached around US$ 71 billion per year.

Trade remains in fact paramount. Repeatedly, Beijing said that, notwithstanding any political or military crises, the mainland would continue to promote economic and civilian exchanges with the island.

"We are getting used to these fights. I tend to believe the promise of the mainland government that they will protect our interests," said a Shanghai-based Taiwanese businessman.

"I just hope both governments will think about the interests of the people before taking any real action," said an executive from a Taiwanese-invested clothing maker.

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