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Wed, Mar 13, 2002 - Page 18 News List

Delegation to visit Beijing to seek lifting of labor ban

AFP , TAIPEI

A lobby group of 15 Taiwanese fishermen are to visit the mainland after Beijing banned Chinese from working for Taiwan's fishing companies, an official said yesterday.

The delegation, comprised of officials from the nation's numerous associations of fishermen, are scheduled to fly to Beijing tomorrow, said Huang Yung-chu (黃永居), an official with the Taiwan Fishermen Association (台灣省漁會).

The Taiwanese group will meet Beijing's cross-strait fishermen's cooperation and coordination committee before they wrap up their trip on Saturday, Huang said.

"It would be unrealistic to hope the issue could be solved in the trip," he said.

"But we do hope the trip will improve understanding between the two sides, and thus help regulate imports of fishermen from the mainland."

From Feb. 1 Chinese workers have been barred from taking jobs with local fishermen, but Taiwan was never officially notified by Beijing due to a lack of official contacts between the two foes.

Local media said the ban was imposed because Chinese workers are not insured and they are not paid income levels equivalent to their Taiwanese counterparts.

The abrupt ban has dealt a blow to Taiwanese fishing boats, who have relied on Chinese laborers for their operations amid a local labor shortage.

Taiwan's fisheries department has expressed regret at the decision.

"The boycott imposed by the mainland will affect Taiwan's labor demand in the fishing industry and lead to the unemployment of some 30,000 mainland workers," it said in a statement.

But Huang hinted that Beijing has backed down somewhat from its official line while declining to go into details.

"They have displayed goodwill," he said, referring to Beijing's desire to talk over the issue.

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