Wed, Jan 22, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Direct links no panacea: MAC

STRAIT TALK MAC Director Tsai Ing-wen says that to make direct ties work, Taiwan will need cooperation from China and the global community

By Lin Miao-Jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's top China policy maker warned yesterday that if Taiwan wishes to maximize the benefits from direct cross-strait transportation links, a unilateral flow of resources and people from Taiwan to China would not enable it to do so.

"Direct cross-strait transportation will not be as wonderful as the public thinks. Only if China allows its resources to flow to Taiwan will the policy have a positive economic effect on Taiwan," said Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council.

To illustrate her case, Tsai noted that the existing "small three links" have simply resulted in more residents of Kinmen and Matsu traveling to China to spend money there.

There has not been, Tsai said, a balanced cross-strait flow of people and resources to the mutual benefit of both Taiwan's and China's economies.

Tsai made the remarks at the council's year-end news conference, held in the wake of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) recent comments that direct transportation across the strait would have only a limited effect on Taiwan's economic situation.

Chen said on Monday that the public should be realistic about the benefits of direct links, and he criticized those who were overly optimistic about the effects such links would have on Taiwan.

Interpreting Chen's remarks, Tsai said that direct transportation links would have both positive and negative effects on Taiwan.

From the economic perspective, Tsai said, direct links would lower the cost of transportation, which in turn would benefit certain businesses and help improve the cross-strait division of industry.

On the other hand, Tsai said,the negative effects would include the costs of adjustment to the fundamental economic changes that direct cross-strait transportation would cause.

"We can't ignore the negative impact brought by cross-strait direct transport links, especially given the situation that China and Taiwan's flow of economic resources are seriously uneven," Tsai said.

Moreover, Tsai said, direct links are not purely a matter of economics. The issue is so complex that national security and political and social stability also have to be taken into account.

An evaluation report about the impact on Taiwan of direct cross-strait transportation has been completed by the council.

But Tsai refused to give details of the report yesterday, saying that it is still undergoing certain administrative procedures.

Tsai also stressed that a major work of the council this year would be taking cross-strait issues to the international community.

"Cross-strait issues have become an issue of great concern among the international community. We should bring these issues to the international level in order to capitalize on the sensitive international situation and cross-strait interaction," Tsai said.

She went on to say that there is nothing wrong with Taiwan using its own name when it joins any international organization.

"China should not push (Taiwan) around in the international community," she said.

In terms of concrete measures that the council would like to take in the international community, the council's Director of Planning and Research Jan Jyh-horng (詹志宏), told the Taipei Times that it will be important to choose influential countries and high-profile international organizations to lobby on Taiwan's behalf.

"We should voice our stance, even under pressure from China's oppression," Jan said.

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