Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Cross-strait restrictions only temporary, official says

CNA , TAIPEI

Although the government has adopted a cautious attitude toward cross-strait exchanges due to the spread of SARS, its policy of steady, gradual opening toward China remains unchanged, a high-ranking official said yesterday.

Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) made the remarks while speaking on cross-strait relations to the inaugural class of the Ketagalan Academy.

The academy, which opened March 29 with the idea that it will nurture the nation's future leaders, is the brainchild of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Chiou said that the SARS epidemic has given the country a chance to reflect upon many things.

The flu-like atypical pneumonia originated in China in November, but because of a cover-up of the disease by Beijing, it has spread to more than 30 countries and has killed 611 patients out of more than 7,730 cases reported, according to the latest tallies of the World Health Organization, Chiou said.

China's lack of transparency and accountability in dealing with the contagious disease has filled global investors with misgivings and Taiwan businessmen should reflect carefully upon the matter, Chiou said.

Chiou said that Taiwan businessmen operating in China should consider keeping their roots in Taiwan, think about returning capital to Taiwan and providing trade opportunities, and take the initiative to lure trade opportunities, both in China and overseas, back to Taiwan.

He said that although both sides of the Taiwan Strait have the desire to talk to each other, Beijing's persistent "one China" rhetoric remains a hurdle.

He said both sides do make efforts on cross-strait issues, evident in the fact that between 1,000 and 2,000 illegal Chinese immigrants in Taiwan's detention centers are repatriated to China every year.

He said that examples abound to show that the government has unveiled a more open policy toward China almost every two months, such as allowing Chinese journalists to be stationed in Taiwan, allowing Chinese spouses of Taiwanese residents to work and the ending of the "no haste, be patient" investment policy.

He added that restrictive measures toward cross-strait exchanges are only temporary and that the government's policy has in fact remained unchanged.

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