Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Wu to Beijing: lift Internet bans

CROSS-STRAIT TIES The Mainland Affairs Council boss said Beijing should lift its bans on Taiwanese Web sites so that Chinese people can better understand this country



Beijing needs to lift bans on Taiwanese Internet news sites in China if it is to move toward repairing "volatile" relations in the aftermath of the passage of its "Anti-Secession" Law, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.

In an exclusive interview with the Taipei Times, Wu said China would have to begin respecting public opinion in Taiwan and renounce the use of military force under any circumstances in order to repair the damage caused by the recently approved law.

Describing the cross-strait situation as volatile, he said the removal of blocks on online news sites from Taiwan was the first step towards demonstrating a respect for democratic society and public opinion.

"There is no exception. All news service sites have been blocked by China. Under such circumstances, how can China understand Taiwan? And if they can' t understand Taiwan, how can they understand our democracy, or see how Taiwan's democracy could contribute to China's development?" he said.

"So the first thing that has to be done is that all Internet service needs to be open to all. They need to let Chinese academics, officials and the people understand what the Taiwanese are thinking and doing," he said.

He said Beijing should also respect Taiwan's right to international participation, particularly in the non-political, non-governmental sector.

On March 14, while delivering the nation's official response to Beijing's Anti-Secession Law, Wu said the Chinese government should apologize to the Taiwanese people by actions, not words. He called on Beijing to repair relations with conciliatory gestures.

Asked whether the government had any specific policies to counter the new law, Wu pointed to the significance of strong support from the international community.

"The first level [of the government's response], and the most important level that we are undertaking, is to appeal to the international community to understand the problems and the viciousness of the Anti-Secession Law, and the problems the law will create in the future," he said.

Judging from the lack of reports on any abnormal Chinese military activities, war was not imminent, he said, although he quickly added that "there continues to be a danger in the area."

"I think the best way to deal with it is trying to bring down the tension on one hand, and work with the international community to make sure the Chinese side does not do anything stupid," Wu said.

He pointed to this Saturday's rally sponsored by the Democratic Progressive Party as an example of action that indicates that "we don't want to be bullied by China."

He said that planning was underway for him to travel abroad to lobby for support against China's new law, but nothing was confirmed.

Saying the law was a "new element of danger ? added into already complicated cross-strait relations," Wu said the council would be closely observing any follow-up legislation.

"We need to assess and continue to asses the impact of the law -- and of course the law is just a preliminary political statement that has been codified -- there might be other legislation related to the law. We will continue to watch very carefully what China might do in the near future to make the situation worse," Wu said, referring to Beijing's possible enactment of legislation on the mobilization of defense forces.

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