Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Foreign businesses asked to facilitate talks with China

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

In response to repeated calls from foreign businesspeople for the government to implement direct cross-strait links, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday urged them to help bring Beijing to the negotiating table with Taipei.

Council Vice Chairman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said businesspeople focus on making money but tend to overlook the overall impact that launching direct links may have.

Chiu thanked the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) and the European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ECCT) for their opinions on the three direct links -- transportation, trade and post -- but added the government had to consider the damage they may cause.

"Our government has done a lot of research to map out cross-strait policies. We are also working on supportive measures for these policies," Chiu said at a seminar entitled "Cross-strait Social Development" co-hosted by the council and National Taiwan University's Graduate Institute of National Development.

Chiu delivered the opening speech for the seminar on behalf of MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮). Two academics from Nanking were invited as speakers to the seminar.

"We hope AmCham and the ECCT can help us persuade Bei-jing to remove some of the barriers it set in the way of cross-strait talks ... The thing is that Taiwan alone cannot conduct negotiations with China even though it is already well prepared," Chiu said.

China also needs to work out details about how to reopen talks with Taiwan, the official said.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said in his inaugural speech that Taiwan and China can promote trade and cultural exchanges, Chiu said, "but so far Beijing has not given us the kind of response that we expected."

However, Chiu said, Beijing has hinted that it wishes that the two sides can resume negotiations conducted by its semi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and its local counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation.

"That's why Chairman Wu, after talking to Premier Yu Shyi-kun, decided to invite ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵) to visit Taiwan," Chiu said.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Kelly said on Wednesday that Taiwan and China are still a long away from negotiations. In response, Chiu said if it was difficult for governments on both sides to talk, they might authorize private organizations to conduct negotiations.

"President Chen hopes Taiwan and China can send envoys to each other's capitals so that they can communicate directly. That would reduce a lot of misunderstanding between us," Chiu said.

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