Mon, Mar 07, 2016 - Page 1 News List

ARATS says politics key to Strait railway connection

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Deming (陳德銘) said that Taiwan and China need to work out political issues before talks can start regarding a high-speed rail connection between Taipei and Beijing, adding that the project would require a lot of patience and negotiations.

“Taiwan could experience power shortage problems over the next few years, and both Taiwan and China can discuss how to resolve the problem. China has the skills and technology to build long-span bridges, on which the high-speed system could operate. We are also able to build underground sections,” Chen said, adding that funding for the project would not be a problem either.

Chen said that Taiwan has shown strength in the construction of its own high-speed rail system.

Should the two sides cooperate, the problems of power and utility supplies could be easily resolved, he said.

“There remains a problem of political inclination between us [Taiwan and China], a problem involving the inclinations of the two parties that are in the stage of peaceful development,” Chen said. “We must wait and see and further discuss this matter with patience.”

China listed a “Beijing-Taipei high-speed rail corridor” as part of its five-year plan to be accomplished by 2020 at the Chinese National People’s Congress, which opened on Saturday.

Chen made the remarks at an interview with the media before attending a task force meeting.

When asked whether the railway plan demonstrates China’s ambition to unify with Taiwan, Chen said that he did not think the project was related to the issue, but added that the two sides are “one family.”

Based on Beijing’s plan, the rail corridor would include four major sections, between Beijing and Bengbu, Anhui Province; between Bengbu and Hefei in Auhui; between Hefei and Fuzhou in China’s Fujian Province; and between Fuzhou and Taipei.

The tracks between Beijing and Bengbu would be part of the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway, which has been in operation since June 30, 2011. The lines connecting Bengbu and Hefei and Hefei and Fuzhou were launched in Oct. 16, 2012, and June 28 last year respectively.

China has begun work on a line connecting Fuzhou and Pingtan Island in its Fujian Province, which is about 100km from Taipei. Pingtan Island was designated a national development zone by the Chinese government in 2009.

To connect Pingtan to Taiwan, China has proposed building an undersea tunnel in the Taiwan Strait.

The Mainland Affairs Council and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had dismissed the unilaterally proposed plan, saying that the project involves many complicated issues ranging from technology and operations to national security.

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