Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Chen urges Beijing to resume negotiations

COME HOME Chen told a gathering of China-based businesspeople that Taipei was pushing for more cross-strait exchanges, but now was a good time to invest in Taiwan

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) urged Beijing yesterday to resume bilateral negotiations as soon as possible, especially on normalizing trade relations.

"I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Chinese government to make efforts to advance the normalization of bilateral ties with sincerity and wisdom," Chen said.

Taiwan's government would continue to adhere to the principle of "stand firm on its position and march forward with practicality" and "active management, effective opening," he said.

Chen made the remarks at a Lunar New Year get-together for Taiwanese businesspeople based in China that was organized by the Straits Exchange Foundation.

Chen said the government would push bilateral trade exchanges step by step -- as long as national security and national interest were upheld -- and continue to commit itself to security, stability and prosperity in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region.

Taipei and Beijing first agreed on a charter flight service for the Lunar New Year in January 2005, and flights have been offered for subsequent holidays.

Beijing, however, since January last year Beijing has delayed the negotiations for Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, passenger charter flight and cargo charter flight services, Chen said.

Given the sharply rising costs of labor, land and energy in China, Taiwanese businesspeople in China should diversify their investments, he said, adding that now was a good time for them to think about returning home to invest.

China's new labor law is expected to increase labor costs by 20 percent to 40 percent, Chen said. In order to keep their competitive edge, Taiwanese business sector based in China must upgrade their businesses or transform themselves, he said.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) urged Beijing to set aside political considerations and return to the negotiation table. He said the government is studying the possibility of easing the 40 percent ceiling of China-bound investment.

In a bid to encourage domestic businesses to lease land in local industrial parks, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) told the audience that the Cabinet has agreed to inject an additional NT$20 billion (US$627.8 million) into a preferential land rental package.

The Cabinet had approved other measures to lure Taiwanese companies to invest at home, he said.

Steven Tsai (蔡來居), a businessman based in Dongguan, China, said he has decided to move back with his family. China's dramatic policy changes and his age were the main reasons for his decision, he said.

Yeh Fei-cheng (葉飛呈), who is based in Zhuhai, China, said he would not close down his Chinese factory to return home because his business is doing well.

He opened the Zhuhai factory about five years ago mainly because of cheaper labor, he said, though recent Chinese policy changes have hiked his operational costs by 20 percent to 30 percent.

He said he would like to see the government do more to help China-based Taiwanese businesspeople.

"I never got any help from the government," he said. "How do you expect a child to ask help from his parents when they fight all the time?"

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