Ma vows to end hostility with mainland

Updated: 2007-06-05 14:14

Ma Ying-jeou, former chairman of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Taipei April 13, 2007. Ma said June 4 that he would end hostility with the mainland if elected in the 2008 polls. [Reuters]
TAIPEI - The candidate from Taiwan's leading opposition Kuomintang for the election next year on Monday vowed to end hostility with the mainland and inaugurate direct transportation links if elected in the 2008 polls.

Former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou said he would give top priority to forging a peace agreement and a military confidence-building mechanism with Beijing.

"If elected, I would immediately engage in talks with (the mainland) on the basis of the '1992 consensus'," he told a group of Taiwan businesspeople, referring to an agreement reached between the former KMT government and Beijing in 1992.

According to the 1992 consensus, both sides agreed there was one China.

Taiwan's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party has rejected the agreement since it won elections in 2000, ending the KMT's 51-year grip on power.

He said he also hoped for closer economic ties with the mainland, including the opening of the "three direct links" -- transportation, commercial and postal services which have been cut since 1949.

DPP candidate Frank Hsieh has also agreed to inaugurate the three links but said Taipei and Beijing must face each other as equals.

Cargo and passenger services do exist through third parties, mainly Hong Kong.

Calls for the resumption of direct links have been mounting given ever closer economic ties but Taiwan says government-level negotiations are required before the ban can be lifted.

Despite the lingering political standoff, the mainland has been Taiwan's largest trading partner since late 2002 and the island's businesspeople have been major investors on the mainland.

Bilateral trade in 2006 rose to US$88.12 billion, up 15.4 percent according to figures released by Taiwan's "Board of Foreign Trade."

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