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Fri, Mar 24, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Siew ponders scrapping `small three links' bill

STAFF WRITER WITH AGENCIES

Two days after the Legislative Yuan passed a resolution lifting a ban on the so-called "small three links (小三通)," Premier Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) yesterday suggested the cabinet may scrap the bill because of national security concerns.

The Offshore Islands Development Bill (離島建設條例), passed on Tuesday, allows Kinmen (金門), Matsu (馬祖) and Penghu (澎湖) to open direct trade, transport and communications links with China -- lifting a ban of more than 50 years.

The bill, however, lacks specifics and is considered largely symbolic of an intent to open barriers between Taiwan and China.

"The law will divide Taiwan into two parts," Siew warned.

He said opening direct links on outlying islands would put the Taiwan mainland in danger.

Siew said such a significant bill should be passed only after an agreement is reached by the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

He instructed Vice Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) to form a special task force to discuss whether the cabinet should file a proposal to review the bill.

Yao Kao-chiao (姚高橋), director of the Coastguard Administration (海巡署), also warned the "small three links" will offer China's intelligence agents and gangsters a channel for infiltrating Taiwan.

Vice Defense Minister Wu Shih-wen (伍世文) also admitted the military may have trouble in monitoring coastal security.

In response, Matsu lawmaker Tsao Erh-chung (曹爾忠) said, "The `lame duck' cabinet has no right to ask for a review of the bill."

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