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Taiwan Businesses Eager to Expand Direct Links Across the Strait
   日期: 2003-10-24 14:34         编辑: system         来源:

In face of economic tumult at home, Taiwan businesses are eager than ever to expand direct links across the Strait.

To resume talks with the Chinese mainland and expand direct commercial, postal and communications links across the Strait are the basis for Taiwan to bail out of its economic bog, said Chen Guoyuan, secretary-general of the Beijing Association for Taiwan-invested Companies.

He said Taiwan is facing an unprecedented crisis and it's now time for Taiwan authorities to review its pro-independence stance on cross-Strait relations and act in the interest of Taiwan people.

"Otherwise, Taiwan is very likely to collapse by itself and the Taiwan people will not agree with the government," Chen told China Daily in a telephone interview.

Taiwan is now harassed with high unemployment rate and is under the threat of a local version of 1997 Southeast Asia financial tumult. Capital is allegedly fleeing the island for above reasons.

The Chinese mainland, with a large potential market, is largely seen as a rescue.

Cross-strait trade is expected to reach US$30 billion in 2000, compared with US$460 million in 1978, according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs.

Till the end of November, cross-Strait trade has accumulated to US$188.22 billion.

Taiwan ranks the Chinese mainland's fifth largest trade partner and second largest exporter.

The Chinese mainland (including Hong Kong) is now Taiwan's second largest importer and the largest source of Taiwan's trade surplus, official statistics indicate.

Taiwan investors pledged a total of US$2.73 billion capital to the Chinese mainland in the first nine months of this year, up 20.84 per cent from the same period of last year, statistics from the MOFTEC show.

"What's more important, Taiwan and the mainland would be able to join their strengths to explore the international market with direct links," said Chen.

Some are afraid lowly priced agricultural products in the mainland are likely to flood into the island after direct links and worsen unemployment.

But Chen insisted that direct links bring more advantages than disadvantages.

He hailed the start of "small three direct links" between outlying Taiwanese islands of Jinmen and Matsu and the cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou in Fujian Province as a good step forward.

But the secretary-general added that the "small three direct links" are more symbolic than otherwise. "Few Taiwan businesses have turned to the `small three direct links' from via Hong Kong and Macao," Chen told China Daily.

"The small three direct links' are meaningful only if they are gradually expanded to all of Taiwan and the mainland," he said.

The mainland has given out its most friendly signal to Taiwan and now it largely depends on Taiwan authorities to decide whether and when to resume talks and direct links with the mainland, said Chen.

He held that present political and economic unrest at Taiwan originates from Taiwan people's doubts over whether Taiwan authorities will be able to carry on the former government's policies and maintain good cross-Strait relations.


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