Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 17 News List

Book ban to be rethought

DEREGULATION Bookstores want the government to lift a ban on books and other media produced in China

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The government will consider whether to open up the market to publications from China, officials said yesterday.

"We will gather input from all related government departments to evaluate whether to amend cross-strait laws and regulations concerning opening the market to publications from China," said Chen Min-tong (陳明通), vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council.

Chen made the comments yesterday at a public hearing, which was held by PFP legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華), to provide a forum to hear the concerns of bookstore owners.

"To meet the demand of our readers, the government should reconsider its regulations," said Wang Yung (王永), general manager of Askford Bookstore.

Last month, roughly 5,000 books imported from China by Askford were held by customs for violation of import rules.

According to the rules, publications, movies and radio and television shows produced in China are prohibited from being distributed in Taiwan without obtaining prior permission from the Government Information Office (GIO).

"In order not to force such publications from going underground, the government should adopt measures to address this issue," Wang said.

Lee Cher-jean (李雪津), deputy director of the GIO, said issues such as amending cross-strait regulations and whether to open the market to publications from China were not decisions that can be decided by GIO alone.

"It's not that the government doesn't care about the development of the publishing industry," Lee said.

"It's just that cross-strait policies concern our national security, and thus it's a matter that requires input from more than just the GIO and the Mainland Affairs Council."

Chen said publications from China are allowed in Taiwan when they are brought in by individuals for private use or by scholars and schools for research purposes.

"Other than those cases, bookstores in Taiwan are prohibited from importing publications from China for profit," Chen said.

In addition, the books have to be translated from simplified Chinese used in China to traditional characters used in Taiwan.

Chen said the government would take into consideration the input from all relevant departments and parties during its evaluation of whether to open up the market to publications from across the Strait.

"In light of Taiwan's accession to the WTO, we recognize the need to readjust our policy," Chen said.

In related news, alcoholic beverage importers appealed to the government yesterday to open the market to distilled liquor from China to allow equal opportunities compared with other alcoholic beverages from China.

Accompanied by KMT legislators Apollo Chen (陳學聖) and Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順), representatives of several local liquor importers made the appeal at the Legislative Yuan, calling for the opening of liquor imports from China following the Board of Foreign Trade's opening to imports of 19 categories of alcoholic beverage, including beer and wine, from China on Feb. 25.

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