Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Matsu chief applies for China visit

REPAIRING TIES The head of Lienchiang County said he had asked the Mainland Affairs Council to approve his trip to hold talks with officials in Fujian Province

CNA , MATSU

Lienchiang County Commissioner Chen Shuei-sheng (陳雪生) said yesterday he plans to head a delegation to visit China on Saturday to promote bilateral cooperation in various fields.

Chen said he has applied for the Mainland Affairs Council's approval of his travel plan.

"But it remains unclear whether the council will approve the application," Chen said, adding that whether he can leave on Saturday as scheduled will hinge on the council's attitude.

According to Chen's plan, members of his mission will include Lienchiang County Council Speaker Chen Chen-ching (陳振清), Legislator Tsao Yuan-chang (曹原彰) who represents Lienchiang County, as well as department chiefs of the county government.

Direct shipping services between Matsu and China's Mawei have been suspended since March 31 over SARS concerns. After the World Health Organization declared both sides of the Taiwan Strait effectively free of SARS, the council resumed direct Kinmen-Xiamen and Matsu-Mawei cargo shipping services late last month, but direct passenger services have not yet been resumed.

Chen said exchanges between Matsu and Fujian have become limited since the suspension of the direct shipping services.

If the council approves his upcoming travel plan, Chen said, the visit will contribute to bilateral cooperation and a resumption of direct shipping links.

Chen said he plans to exchange views with Fujian officials on SARS prevention, environmental protection, tourist development, aquaculture and maritime food processing.

In related news, The Straits Exchange Foundation said yesterday it has asked Chinese authorities to probe the death of a Taiwanese businessman in Dongguan, Guangdong Province on Saturday night.

The foundation said it has asked China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) to push Beijing authorities to investigate the death of Chen Kuo-yuan (陳國原), 32, a deputy manager of a Taiwanese-invested firm in Dongguan.

According to reports from China, Chen died after being knocked down in a fistfight with a taxi driver.

In its urgent message to ARATS, the foundation said, it demanded that Beijing punish all those involved in the incident and step up protection of Taiwanese business-people operating in China.

The foundation said it has asked the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce in Dongguan to assist Chen's family in handling related affairs.

Official statistics show that about 170 Taiwanese businesspeople have either been murdered or have gone missing in China in the past few years.

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