CHINA / National

CPC, KMT urge closer trade relations
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-15 07:17

The Communist Party of China (CPC) and Taiwan's opposition Kuomintang (KMT) have underlined the significance of stronger cross-Straits economic links amid political tension across the Straits.

At an economic forum that opened in Beijing on Friday, they called on the island's ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to drop its policy of using politics to hamper economic development.

Jia Qinglin (L), chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, shakes hands with Lien Chan, honorary chairman of Kuomintang, an opposition party in Taiwan, in Beijing April 14, 2006. Lien is in Beijing the two-day Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum. CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao is set to meet Lien on Sunday. [Xinhua]

Jia Qinglin, a standing committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, said closer bilateral economic exchanges would help to maintain peace and stability across the Straits.

"It is an inevitable trend for the two sides to deepen their economic co-operation and achieve common development," he told the opening session of the Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum.

Jia, also chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said Taiwan's economy would see a new vitality if the island opens up wider to the mainland.

The two-day event co-organized by the CPC and KMT and attended by 500 officials, business leaders and academics from both sides of the Straits aims to promote stronger co-operation between the two economies.

Despite the political stalemate in cross-Straits relations, Taiwan investors have poured billions of dollars into the mainland. Trade volume between the two sides reached US$91.23 billion last year, with the mainland being Taiwan's biggest export market and largest source of trade surplus.

Lien Chan, former KMT chairman, spoke highly of the mainland's contribution to Taiwan's economy.

"Without the resources of the mainland, Taiwan cannot go far," he told the forum.

Lien criticized the DPP administration for its closed-door mainland policy.

"This makes Taiwan lose its momentum for further economic growth," he said.

He added that the forum itself has gone beyond an inter-party meeting between the CPC and KMT to concern the welfare of all people across the Straits.

Last April, Lien made a groundbreaking visit to the mainland that ended decades of hostility between the KMT and CPC. He is scheduled to meet President Hu Jintao on Sunday, for the second time in a year.

Lien, also KMT honorary chairman, said the island should take a benign and optimistic attitude towards the rise of the mainland and focus on co-existence and shared prosperity.

"Don't demonize and vilify the Chinese mainland, and don't treat it as a threat," he told the forum.

"Let us stay united and join our forces to work together for the prosperity of the Chinese nation."

Both Jia and Lien proposed the establishment of direct transport links across the Straits and broader co-operation in a wider range of sectors such as tourism, agriculture, education, banking and high-tech industries.

Taipei has yet to lift its decades-old ban on direct air and shipping links with the mainland. Flights between Taiwan and the mainland have to stop over in a third point, usually Hong Kong or Macao.

Lien told the audience of his own discomfort at spending more than eight and a half hours on a plane to reach Beijing via Hong Kong.

(China Daily 04/15/2006 page1)


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