Sun, Jan 05, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Don't act hastily on direct links, Chen adviser warns

GO SLOW At a pro-Taiwan seminar, Huang Tien-lin said that, in its haste to develop relations with China, this country must avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Hong Kong

CNA , TAIPEI

The government should make comprehensive preparations for establishing direct trade and transportation links with China, said presidential adviser Huang Tien-lin (黃天麟), who warned that rash moves would bring impact greatly on Taiwan's political and economic landscape.

Huang made the remarks on Saturday at a seminar held to review the political situation over the past year. The seminar was sponsored by the think tank Taiwan Heart.

Huang said that Taiwan businessmen's investment in China have brought booming bilateral trade. But it has also highlighted the issue of the possible opening of direct trade, postal and transportation links -- commonly known as the three links -- ? between the two sides.

Huang said that "three links" will still be a hot topic this year, but he also questioned whether Taiwan's economy would rebound from its current doldrums should the direct links be established.

Citing Hong Kong as an example, Huang said that a lot of Hong Kong people flocked to China to invest there after 1997 when the former British colony was handed over to China. The result, he said, has been a sluggish Hong Kong economy.

"Taiwan should learn from Hong Kong and map out effective measures to counter the draw to China," he said.

"Taiwan businessmen operating on the mainland should not sway the government here" to open direct links, Huang said. He added that Taipei should ask Beijing to sit down and talk on the premise of "equality, reciprocity and dignity" and come up with a solution that is acceptable to both sides.

Chiu Chuei-liang (丘垂亮), president of Taiwan Heart, said that the DPP administration has weathered various challenges over the past year, and it had achieved some results.

But Chiu predicted that President Chen Shui-bian, who has made known his intention to seek re-election, will face a tough battle in the 2004 presidential election.

Chiu said, however, "The 2004 presidential election will be critical to Taiwan's democratic politics," and that Chen has to perform well to win the both hearts of the people and the election.

Lin Yu-ti (林玉體), a member of the Examination Yuan, expressed his concerns about Taiwan's education system. He said the system still clings to the admiration of "greater-China thinking" and has not nurtured a feeling for and an attachment to Taiwan.

Lin said that the most important thing regarding education reform should be to nurture Taiwan consciousness in students, and make them understand Taiwan's history.

If college students still think of themselves as "Taiwanese, but also Chinese," then "Taiwan deserves to fall," Lin said.

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