A key year for Taiwan situation

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-18 07:16

This year will be a crucial period for discouraging "Taiwan Independence" and maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, officials in Beijing said yesterday.

"With the Taiwan authority's pursuit of de jure 'independence' for Taiwan through 'constitutional' change entering a period of substantial implementation this year, cross-Straits relations face grave challenges," said Yang Yi, spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office.

Yang, who is the deputy director of the office's press bureau, made his first appearance at the regular press conference yesterday, making him the third spokesman for the mainland office handling Taiwan affairs.

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Last November, Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian advocated the establishment of a "second republic" by revising the island's current "constitution" and adopting a new one. The proposal was widely denounced as indicating the pursuit of de jure 'independence' for Taiwan.

Chen also proposed to change the island's "territorial" definition in the new "constitution" last September.

"We will show our utmost willingness and try our best to win peaceful unification prospects, but we shall never tolerate 'Taiwan Independence' or any attempt to make Taiwan secede from China," Yang said.

Looking back on the developments of the past year, Yang said cross-Straits relations had gradually moved towards peace and stability thanks to the efforts of the people on both sides.

Yang added that secessionist moves by Taiwan 'independence' forces had been the target of severe joint denunciations by people on both sides of the Straits.

Travel ties also are booming. Tourists from Taiwan made more than 4.4 million visits to the mainland last year, while more than 200,000 mainland people visited Taiwan, Yang said.

Yang urged the Taiwan authorities to allow two pandas to enter Taiwan.

The mainland offered Taiwan a pair of giant pandas as gift in May 2005, but the Taiwan authorities have so far refused to let the pandas enter Taiwan, citing political reasons.

(China Daily 01/18/2007 page3)

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