Mon, Oct 04, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Chen says he'll give `vital' speech on National Day

AUDIENCE Chen told China-based Taiwanese businesspeople attending a conference his speech will promote `lasting peace' for the country

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) announced yesterday he will give a "vital" speech on relations with China on National Day on Oct. 10.

The president said his National Day speech will aim to achieve "lasting peace and stability for Taiwan."

Chen unveiled his plan when addressing a group of China-based Taiwanese business leaders, who returned home to attend a government-hosted conference in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Chen, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) all attended the dinner banquet at the conference.

With reduced interference by China, a record number of China-based Taiwanese businessmen returned home to join the conference, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) said.

Yen Wan-ching (顏萬進), Deputy Secretary-General of SEF, held a press conference to explain Chen and Lu's schedule.

The president's appearance at the conference had not been published on his daily schedule, which is usually made available to reporters on the previous day.

Asked whether Chen's attendance at the conference might cause trouble for the businessmen as they return to China, Yen said people should not distort the president's good intentions toward the businessmen.

The semi-official foundation started a two-day conference for the businessmen in the Hone Shee Villa (鴻禧山莊) in Tashi, Taoyuan County, yesterday.

"This time, China did not try to stop the businessmen from coming home, which shows [Chinese President] Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has shifted to a more practical line in dealing with Taiwan," said Yen.

"[Hu's] measure lays a good foundation for better interaction between Taiwan and China," Yen added.

The government routinely holds conferences for returning China-based Taiwanese businessmen around the three major festivals of the year -- the Lunar New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The number of participants in the conference for the Dragon Boat Festival in June dropped dramatically owing to China's interference, the foundation claimed.

There are around 70 Taiwanese business associations in China. Forty-seven association presidents turned up to yesterday's conference, as opposed to 15 at the one held in June.

Yen said the foundation tried new conference formats this time so that the businessmen would have more time to get to know each other and exchange experiences.

In previous conferences, high-ranking government officials attended seminars to listen to the businessmen's opinions and requests and discuss with them how the government might help to meet their needs.

However, many businessmen have complained in the past that their opinions were not taken seriously, and that such conferences were not an effective way to address their needs.

Yen said that this time foundation staff, rather than government officials, would collect the businessmen's requests and send them to related government agencies.

"Most of the businessmen believe the foundation is capable of mediating between them and government agencies," Yen said.

Conference seminar topics included: "How I Turned Dumplings into Gold," "My Glasses Kingdom," "My Chinese Medicine is Great" and "My Department Store is the Best."

Yen thanked several Taiwanese business associations for donating money for conference activities.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun will be attending the conference to express thanks to businessmen who made donations to victims of the recent typhoons, floods and mudslides.

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