China slammed Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on Wednesday, saying his "stubborn adherence" to independence for the island since he was elected six years ago has hampered relations between the rivals.
Chen has enraged Beijing by seeking to assert Taiwan's separate status and rejecting China's claim of sovereignty over the self-ruled island, which split with the mainland amid civil war in 1949.
Although trade and other links between the two have expanded rapidly in recent years, Beijing has repeatedly threatened to attack if Taiwan tries to formally declare independence.
"Chen Shui-bian's stubborn adherence to Taiwan independence for the last six years has consistently provoked confrontation between the mainland and Taiwan," said Li Weiyi, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet.
Li was responding to a question at a regular news conference on recent comments by Chen that exchanges across the Taiwan Strait had increased since he was first elected.
"He has deliberately put obstacles in the way of cross-strait exchanges and seriously hindered the development of cross-strait ties," Li said.
Beijing often responds strongly to any talk of independence by Taipei, and actively works to limit the island's international role. China's relations with the United States and Japan are also impacted by any pro-Taiwan comments made by political leaders in Washington and Tokyo.
Li said Taiwan should lift a ban on China's official People's Daily and the Xinhua News Agency, whose reporters were kicked out in April 2005 in retaliation for China's passage of a law authorizing an attack on the island if it pushes for independence.
China says reporters from Xinhua and the mouthpiece newspaper of the Communist Party were barred because their opinions conflicted with those held by Chen's party.
Li also said Taiwanese reporters covering the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics would be able to operate under relaxed reporting rules similar to ones announced earlier for foreign media, theoretically giving them greater freedom to travel and report.
Li said starting Jan. 1, Taiwanese journalists would be able to interview individuals or visit organizations and would need only to obtain their prior consent.
Taiwanese journalists will also be able to hire local Chinese to assist them in their reporting, Li said.
The new regulations temporarily abolish rules requiring reporters to obtain government approval for all travel and interviews.
Like regulations already issued for foreign journalists reporting on the Olympics, the rules for Taiwanese journalists will be in force from Jan. 1 to Oct. 17, 2008.