President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that his administration's decision to ease restrictions on China-bound investment is mainly aimed at boosting Taiwan's competitiveness in the global market.
Chen made the remarks while receiving a delegation of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), one of South Korea's largest industry associations.
Noting that China-bound investment is an integral part of Taiwan's global market-development plan, Chen said the nation's government has decided to replace its previous "no haste, be patient" investment policy with an "active opening, effective management" strategy.
"With confidence in our economic vitality and prospects, we are willing to further liberalize our trade with and investment in mainland China," Chen said, adding that trade liberalization is part of his administration's efforts to normalize relations across the Taiwan Strait.
On relations with South Korea, Chen said he hopes that direct air links between Taiwan and South Korea can be resumed as soon as possible to provide the people of each country with convenient, safe and cheap flight services.
Chen further said he looks forward to seeing an early resumption of bilateral ministerial-level meetings and exchanges of visits by high-ranking officials.
Taiwan-South Korean direct air links, annual ministerial-level meetings and high-level exchanges have been suspended since Seoul switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1992.
Despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties, two-way trade between Taiwan and South Korea continues to expand. South Korea became Taiwan's fourth-largest trading partner last year, with trade volume reaching US$12.9 billion.
Chen said both countries should treasure this achievement and work hand-in-hand to further improve bilateral relations and economic cooperation.
The South Korean trade delegation arrived in Taipei earlier this week to attend an economic conference co-sponsored by the FKI and Taiwan's Chinese National Association of Commerce and Industry. The conference opened Tuesday.