China to blame for direct-links woes, CEPD chief says


Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 3

The heart of the issue regarding direct transportation links is China's unwillingness to negotiate with Taiwan, not Taiwan's limitations on itself, the chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said over the weekend.

Hu Sheng-cheng (胡勝正) was responding to Deputy US Trade Representative Karan Bhatia's testimony at a hearing of the Committee on International Relations of the US House of Representatives last Thursday.

Bhatia said that during his recent visit to Taipei, he had heard a great deal about Taiwan imposing restrictions on itself, such as limits on cross-strait trade, and that these limits had made the country less attractive to US companies.

Hu said that given the political relations between Taiwan and China, if the two sides entered into negotiations, it would take a long time.

"Moreover, China does not want to talk right now," Hu said.

The council has repeatedly explained this to all foreign businesses in Taiwan, including US businesses, in the hope that the issue will not affect their impression of Taiwan and investment here, Hu said.

Hu also said that during Bhatia's visit in late May, he conveyed his points to the Executive Yuan.

The administrative team fully understood US companies' concerns regarding direct transportation links to facilitate exchanges between the people on the two sides, Hu said.

Noting that Bhatia said that his recent visit was to engage in dialogue under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and to help address impediments in Taiwan-US relations, Hu said the TIFA was only one stage and that Taiwan was more concerned about signing a free-trade agreement with the US.

The TIFA was established between the US and Taiwan in 1994 to resolve bilateral trade disputes and enhance economic cooperation in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.