Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 4 News List

MAC considers expanding links to non-Fujian centers

CNA , TAIPEI

The government is making an overall assessment of demands by Taiwanese businesspeople in China that those who reside in parts of the country other than Fujian Province can also return home via Kinmen and Matsu for the Lunar New Year holiday, a Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) official said yesterday.

Council Vice Chairman Johnnason Liu (劉德勳) noted that direct trade, postal and transportation links between Kinmen and Matsu and designated ports in Fujian, have been in place for nearly three years. He said that the council will continue to review their implementation and adjust them according to actual needs.

He noted that the "small three links" could originally only be used by Taiwanese who have held household registration in Kinmen and Matsu for more than six months. They have since expanded to apply to Taiwanese businesses that have obtained prior approval from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to invest in Fujian, including the owners, employees and their dependents.

On the demands by China-based businesspeople outside Fujian who wish to return to Taiwan through the mini-links for the Lunar New Year holiday, Liu said that the government has always attached great importance to the needs of its businesspeople and is now assessing their views.

On whether to allow them to return on "regular days," Liu said that the requests will be included in an annual review and assessed under a general consideration.

The mini-links were established in January 2001 for the residents of the two islands wishing to sail directly across the Taiwan Strait in the absence of full direct transport links with China.

In addition to a special charter plane service, the council allowed Taiwanese businesspeople and their families living in Fujian to return to Taiwan via the small-links for the first time, which helped alleviate the busy Lunar New Year air traffic between Taiwan and China via Hong Kong or Macau.

Liu also rejected a suggestion by Chinese trade officials that both sides of the Taiwan Strait establish a model similar to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Beijing and Hong Kong.

Liu said that this is an arrangement dreamed up by Beijing to address the situation of Hong Kong under the premise of the "one country, two systems" model and as such, cannot be applied to Taiwan. He added that for such cross-strait trade issues, the WTO provides a better platform.

Liu further said that if Taiwan cannot receive a positive response under the WTO framework, it cannot possibly expect the CEPA model to work for this country.

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