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Sun, Aug 05, 2001 - Page 3 News List

MAC puts damper on lifting of links ban

STAFF WRITER

The Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council yesterday criticized a proposal to open up direct cross-strait transport, trade and communications links that is being pushed hard by some members of the Economic Development Advisory Conference.

The council said the move would threaten both Taiwan's economy and its national security.

The council expressed its opinion in a report delivered to the cross-strait section of the conference, citing an analysis released by the Chung-Hua Institute for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院).

The council warned that opening up the links will speed up the emigration of Taiwan's businesses to China, which will be disadvantageous to the island's economic development.

In particular, the council said Taiwan will experience problems such as a drain of capital, a rise in unemployment and the abandonment of land. All this would disrupt public order, the council said.

On the impact on the nation's national security, the council said opening up shipping and air links will weaken Taiwan's defense capability, especially when China has not renounced its military threat against Taiwan.

The council admitted that Taiwan will need to adjust to its ban on cross-strait trade links along with entry into the WTO.

As to the opening of direct cross-strait telecommunication, postal, shipping and air links, the council said, they are not a concern of the WTO and do not have direct connection with Taiwan's admission to the WTO.

Some participants of the conference did not agree with the MAC's decision.

New Party Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) and Chang Pen-tsao (張平沼), chairman of Taiwan International Securities Group (金鼎證券集團), criticized the council for always using national security as an excuse not to open the links.

Chang said Taiwan will be able to put cross-strait travelers under better regulation after the ban is lifted, which will help control the problems of cross-strait smuggling and illegal Chinese immigrants.

Lai said there should be a limit to the scope of national security, and the concern of national security should not hamper the nation's policy on cross-strait trade.

Responding to the criticism, Secretary General of the Executive Yuan Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) said the ban on direct cross-strait transport, trade and communications links and the "no haste, be patient" policy on investment toward China involve both good and evil.

Chiou said lifting the ban involved not only national security concerns but capital flows and the unemployment problem.

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