Ministries push for direct links
( 2003-12-22 08:12) (China Daily)
While faulting Taiwan for its unfair trade practices, the mainland has pledged active and pragmatic efforts to again push for the establishment of the three direct links across the Taiwan Straits.
Both the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Information Technology published written statements at the weekend, urging Taipei to lift its five-decade direct trade and postal services ban between the two sides.
The mainland's move, following an earlier call for direct transport links, is aimed at strengthening economic integration with Taiwan.
Analysts say the appeal for warmer economic relations is also meant to ease cross-Straits tensions, triggered by Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's recent provocative separatist actions.
On Wednesday, the mainland-based Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council unveiled its first official document on Beijing's proposed direct mail, transport and trade links across the Taiwan Straits.
The Ministry of Commerce said in its statement the mainland is ready and willing to discuss technical problems concerning direct trade links with Taiwan through private discussions.
It called on the Taiwan authorities to scrap discriminatory restrictions on mainland products and investment in a bid to end the current "indirect, one-way and partial" state of cross-Straits economic exchanges.
Currently, most trade between the two sides goes through Hong Kong, Macao or other areas.
And Taipei still bans the importation of more than 2,000 kinds of mainland goods, although the mainland market has been completely opened to Taiwan's enterprises and commodities, the statement said.
Many of the mainland's advantageous commodities that are in high demand in Taiwan - such as household electrical appliances, clothes, rice, fruits and vegetables - are not able to make it to the island.
Meanwhile, mainland enterprises are allowed neither to invest on the island nor set up necessary business agencies there.
The commerce ministry said the Taiwan authorities have so far failed to take any substantial steps toward setting up direct trade links with the mainland, which violates the principles of justice and openness as a World Trade Organization member.
Despite the political stalemate, cross-Straits economic and trade ties have grown substantially over the past two decades.
The trade volume shot up to US$44.66 billion in 2002, contrasting with only US$46 million in 1978, with the mainland now as Taiwan's biggest export market and its largest source of trade surplus.
As for the establishment of direct postal links, the Ministry of Information Technology said the Taiwan authorities should first abandon their attempt to politicize the issue.
Industrial associations from both sides should be allowed to engage in direct talks for closer business co-operation, it said.
In terms of mail, cross-Straits parcels now have to be delivered via Hong Kong or Macao, according to the ministry.
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