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Co-operation across Taiwan Straits to be strengthened
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-26 01:57

At the news briefing, officials from the ministries of commerce and agriculture vowed to strengthen cross-Straits agricultural co-operation and grant wider market access to Taiwan's farm goods, including fruits, flowers and seeds.

Tang Wei, deputy director of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce, said the mainland has seen a growing demand for top-grade farm products from Taiwan and has no restrictions on imports of such goods.

Farm produce trade across the Straits hit US$421 million in 2004, with Taiwan's exports to the mainland reaching US$116 million.

Agricultural imports from Taiwan, however, made up a relatively small proportion of the mainland's total, about 1 per cent.

Tang Yi, of the Taiwan Affairs Office, said agriculture leaders from Taiwan will be invited to visit Beijing in late March and early April for talks to increase sales on the mainland. Meanwhile, he added, Beijing is also willing to send delegations to visit agricultural bases in the southern part of Taiwan and communicate directly with local people on related issues.

Southern Taiwan is believed to be the political base for "independence"-minded Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian.

Pu Zhaozhou, director of the Office of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, also confirmed that Taiwan's China Airlines has applied to use the mainland's international flight routes to Europe in a bid to save money and time.

"We will respond (to their application) after further contact with them," Pu said.

During the US-led war in Iraq in early 2003, the mainland allowed Taiwanese airlines to use its international flight routes.

Despite good prospects for economic co-operation, cross-Straits political relations remain "grim" due to unending separatist activities on the island, said Li Weiyi.

The spokesman singled out Chen's obstinate push for "constitutional" change as the main threat to peace and stability in the Straits and the Asia-Pacific region.

He said the proposed anti-secession law to be passed during the upcoming session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, aims to curb any move to split the island from China while promoting peaceful reunification of the motherland.

"The bill will be conducive to developing and stabilizing cross-Straits ties as well as peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," Li said.

(China Daily 02/26/2005 page2)

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