Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Yu asks AmCham for a fair hearing

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday appealed to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) to recognize efforts the government has made to bring about direct links with China, and said it hoped that AmCham could act as a catalyst for cross-strait negotiations.

"We have considerably eased cross-strait restrictions on exchanges of skilled workers, capital and goods over the years," Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying. "We ac-knowledge the suggestions made by AmCham and do take them seriously."

The crux of the problem, however, was Beijing, which was continuing to ignore goodwill gestures extended by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, Chen said.

"I'm calling on Beijing to sit down with us at the negotiating table and talk about the issue of direct links," Yu was quoted as saying. "It's not at all conducive to cross-strait talks to place political obstacles between the two sides."

Beijing should approach the problem of direct transportation links and other cross-strait issues with more creativity and a more pro-active attitude, Yu was quoted as saying.

"Cross-strait issues cannot be resolved and political differences cannot be put aside if there are no negotiations," he said.

The Cabinet was responding to a call by AmCham to improve economic ties with China in its 2004 Taiwan White Paper which was released on Tuesday.

The paper said that Taiwan's status as a regional economic hub would be in jeopardy if direct transportation links across the Taiwan Strait were not established.

The lack of direct links with China has become a symbol of Taiwan's isolation from Asia's fastest-growing market, the report said.

AmCham has issued the annual publication since 1996.

Saying he would take into account AmCham's suggestions, Yu also expressed a desire to meet with AmCham officials to listen to their opinions personally.

"We'd also like [AmCham] to help us with the government's campaign to sign a Free Trade Agreement [FTA] with the US," Yu said.

Yu has announced that the Cabinet will set up a special task force to speed up negotiations for an FTA, which stalled at the beginning of last year. This was one of four goals mapped out by Yu for the new Cabinet.

On the economic front, Yu has proposed developing an economic alliance with diplomatic and non-diplomatic allies, particularly the US and Japan.

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