Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 3 News List

PRC gives blessing to new Taiwanese business federation

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

China has given its blessing to the first national-level Taiwanese chamber of commerce, for which a ceremony will be held in Beijing on Monday to mark the formal establishment of the Friendship Association for Enterprises Invested in by Taiwanese Compatriots, China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office said.

"The association will aim to help resolve business disputes and protect the rights of Taiwan investors," said Chang Han-wen (張漢文), a Taiwanese investor in China's Guangdong Province.

Taiwanese businesspeople have set up more than 100 city-level chambers of commerce across China since the 1990s, but have been banned from forming a national-level chamber until now because China's Communist Party frowns on freedom of association.

Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, has been chosen to serve as the honorary chairman of the new organization.

He Shizhong (何世忠), director of the office's Economic Bureau, will be the group's vice chairman and secretary-general.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Chao-hui (黃昭輝) earlier this week urged Taiwan's government and business leaders "not to recognize, follow or participate in" the association, saying that it was part of China's attempt to ally itself with Taiwanese businesspeople against Taiwan's government by posting ranking officials in the newly formed federation.

He also questioned why the two Chinese officials were participating in an organization purportedly intended to defend and safeguard the rights and interests of Taiwanese businesspeople in China.

`One China' trap

He said that while Taiwanese business associations around China have worked hard to protect Taiwanese interests, the new business federation would be "trapped by Beijing's `one China' scheme, hidden in the association's organic constitution," which stipulates that the leadership of the federation must respect the "one China" principle and advocate China's goal of unification.

Meanwhile, Lien Chan (連戰), former chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), is to attend the third Cross-Strait Economic and Cultural Forum in Beijing from April 28 to April 29 and meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

China menaced Taiwan with war games in the run-up to the nation's first direct presidential elections in 1996.

However, in an about-face, Hu rolled out the red carpet for Taiwanese opposition politicians as part of a divide-and-rule campaign. Hu has sought to win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese businesspeople by exempting some fruit from import tax and offering loans.

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