Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Wu says Chinese tourists will discover democracy

YOU'RE MOST WELCOME The MAC chair said that visiting Taiwan would enable Chinese people to sample the freedoms that Taiwanese enjoy every day

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

If Chinese tourists were allowed to visit Taiwan they would be able to learn about democracy and experience the vibrancy of a nation that enjoys freedom of speech and freedom of the press, Mainland Affairs Council Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.

Wu made the remarks in a keynote speech at a symposium held jointly by the council and Academia Sinica.

The symposium, titled "The Rise of China: Beijing's Strategies and Implications for the Asia-Pacific," invited local and foreign academics to present their papers on issues pertaining to cross-strait and regional affairs.

"The Chinese government has tight control over its mass media. Therefore, the only way for Chinese people to learn about Taiwan is to visit the country," Wu said, adding that the government hoped to facilitate tourism so that Chinese people could discover how little Taiwan had in common with the picture painted of the nation by the Chinese government's propaganda.

"Chinese visitors can talk freely to locals on the streets and read different kinds of newspapers. I believe that they will enjoy Taiwan's special political call-in shows," Wu said. "That would be the best way for Chinese people to experience how vibrant Taiwan is thanks to freedom of speech and freedom of the press."

Wu said that while China was on the "rise," its government spoke often of "peaceful development" in order to downplay its military ambitions.

"China is becoming a world-class power," Wu said. "As the engine of the East, China has to be transparent about its military and economic development. We also need to be aware that China's economic growth might not necessarily be a blessing for the world."

Wu said that there was a common misconception in the international community that Taiwan sought to intentionally provoke China.

"But I have to say that [provocation] is not Taiwan's policy toward China. Our policy is to explore the possibility of resuming negotiations with China and to find a way to push for dialogue between the two sides," Wu said. "We continue to express our goodwill toward China and invite China to talk to us. We want to build a better relationship with China and we want to avoid conflict. Military confrontation in the Strait is the most unlikely scenario."

For example, Wu said, the government announced on June 14 that it would allow four charter flights between Beijing and Taipei for cargo and passengers.

Wu also talked about the Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development held by the Cabinet last month. Although the conference did not reach a concrete consensus on the nation's economic policy to China, Wu said it had offered the opportunity to discuss many issues. This would help the government to adjust its policies in a practical manner with the result that Taiwan's economic relationship with China would become more rational.

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