Tue, Jan 04, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Politicians pay respectsto the late SEF chairman

By Caroline Hong and Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Both political camps expressed their condolences yesterday after hearing of the death of Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), while remembering him for his contributions to cross-strait relations.

Scores of politicians made trips to the mourning hall set up at Taiwan Cement Corp's Taipei office to pay their respects, and praised Koo for his accomplishments.

Koo was, in life, genteel and cultured, learned, poised and generous, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) said after paying his respects at the mourning hall yesterday afternoon.

"No one will be able to replace Koo in terms of work on cross-strait relations," Lien said yesterday.

Accompanied by legislators Chin Huei-chu (秦慧珠) and Shen Chih-huei (沈智慧), People First Party (PFP) deputy secretary-general Chin Chin-sheng (秦金生) also made an appearance at Ku's mourning yesterday.

Upon his departure from the hall, Chin told reporters that PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) had been notified of Koo's death earlier in the day. Speaking on Soong's behalf, who is currently in the US, Chin also praised Koo for having made contributions toward cross-strait relations.

In particular, said Chin, Koo's talks with Wang Daohan (汪道涵), chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) in 1993 was the greatest breakthrough in cross-strait relations of the past 20 years.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) yesterday also led party officials to Taiwan Cement Building pay their respects to Koo.

"Mr. Koo is an ice-breaker in the area of cross-straits relations," DPP officials said in a press release yesterday.

"Mr. Koo devoted his life to the country and has played a pivotal role not only in business circles but also in the interaction across the Taiwan Strait, which is worthy of national tribute," read the statement.

The "Koo-Wang talks" were held in April 1993. Both sides of the strait signed four agreements and constructed a formal communication channel and marked a milestone for both sides, the statement added.

However, DPP officials said, looking back at the development of cross-strait relations over the past decade, many barriers and misunderstandings still exist between the governments and people of China and Taiwan. The lack of clear channels of communication have prevented a formal peace agreement from being reached, the officials added.

"It was not only Mr. Koo, but the people of Taiwan that regret never having established cross-strait peace," the DPP officials said.

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