Cross-Straits peace, stability are primary concerns
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-19 07:27
Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday offered to resume peace talks and expand business ties with Taiwan while warning the island against pushing for UN membership via a "referendum".
Wen admitted the situation in Taiwan is "at a sensitive stage" as the island will hold its "presidential" elections and "referendum" on Saturday.
He stressed, however, that what interests him most is maintaining peace and stability across the Straits and promoting common development on both sides.
On the precondition of the one-China principle, the mainland hopes to restore peace talks as soon as possible, the premier said at a press conference after China's top legislature ended its first annual full session.
"In such negotiations, all topics can be put on the table, including such important issues as putting an end to the state of hostility between the two sides," he said.
Beijing and Taipei started semi-official negotiations in April 1993, but the talks broke down in July 1999, when former Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui put forward the so-called "two states theory" that defined cross-Straits ties as a state-to-state relationship.
Efforts to restart the talks have stalled as the pro-independence ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which came to power in 2000, rejects the one-China principle as the precondition for the talks.
Wen yesterday resorted to brotherhood to call for a reunification across the Straits.
"We have always longed to see a reunified China," Wen said while emotionally reciting lines from a 700-year-old poem.
"We remain brothers after all the vicissitudes, let's forgo our own grudges, smiling we will meet again."
Despite his call for better cross-Straits ties, the premier warned that the Taiwan authorities' attempt to hold the "referendum" will cause tension across the Taiwan Straits.
"It will deny the reality that both Taiwan and the mainland belong to one and the same China," he said.
"It will jeopardize relations across the Straits, harm the fundamental interests of people on both sides, and threaten the peace across the Straits and in the Asia-Pacific region."
The premier reiterated that all issues concerning China's sovereignty and territorial integrity should be decided by all Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots.
"No one could ever succeed in the attempt to separate Taiwan from China and any attempt is doomed to fail," he said.
In support of his appeal for stronger business ties across the Straits, Wen pledged to expand the range and scope of business ties and trade with Taiwan.
"We will continue to increase exchanges in economic and trade fields with Taiwan, we particularly want to resume the three direct links between the two sides as quickly as possible," Wen said.
He said the mainland will continue to expand the scope of economic exchanges with Taiwan in such fields as investment, trade, tourism and banking for win-win and mutually beneficial cooperation.
"To serve the interests of people in Taiwan, we are even ready to make necessary sacrifices," Wen said, adding that Taiwan has been running a huge trade surplus with the mainland for many years.
Last year alone, trade between the mainland and Taiwan stood at $120 billion, with Taiwan having a surplus of $70 million.
In contrast, more than 2,000 products from the mainland are still denied access to Taiwan's market while the mainland has continued to give market access to products from Taiwan, including agricultural products, Wen said.
Taiwan also imposed restrictions on investment from the mainland while more than 70,000 Taiwan companies have entered the mainland market, bringing a total investment of $48 billion.
If investment through third parties is included, the figure is over $70 billion, Wen said.
"On all these issues, we can conduct consultations on the basis of equality and mutual benefits. By doing so, we are actually tapping the full potential of each side," he said.
Xinhua contributed to the story
(China Daily 03/19/2008 page5)