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Mainland pushes forward direct exchanges with Taiwan
Updated: 2006-01-24 08:43

The Chinese mainland on Monday lashed out at Taiwan leader's stance to restrict economic relations with the mainland and pledged continuous efforts to advance comprehensive economic exchanges.

He Shizhong, director of the economic bureau of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, called Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian's stance to exercise more control on economic relations with the mainland "a move against the trend of the times and wishes of the people."

"Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that economic and trade relations across the Taiwan Straits continued to make new progress in 2005," He said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

According to the statistics, a total of 68,095 projects funded by business people from Taiwan had been approved by the mainland at the end of 2005, with a contractual investment of 89.7 billion U.S. dollars from Taiwan and 41.76 billion dollars actually used.

Indirect cross-Straits trade volume had hit 495.81 billion dollars, including 81.73 billion dollars of mainland export to Taiwan and 414.08 billion dollars of Taiwan export to the mainland, resulting in an aggregate trade surplus of 332.35 billion dollars for Taiwan.

"The mainland is Taiwan's No. 1 export market and largest trade surplus source, while Taiwan is mainland's second largest import market," said He.

In his New Year address, Chen Shui-bian said that proactive management and effective liberalization represents the new mindset and course of action for Taiwan's future cross-Straits economic and trade policies.

Relevant departments in Taiwan, a Chinese island pending reunification, are drafting management measures based on Chen's speech.

The retrogressive stance has met widespread opposition in Taiwan, especially among the business communities, and sharp criticism from the mainland.

"Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits are brothers connected with blood and flesh," said the mainland official He.

"In front of opportunities and challenges, they should join hands more closely to support each other and work for prosperity of both sides and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," said He.

The mainland has showed explicit goodwill and done much to beef up exchanges in hopes of an eventual reunification, yet the moves have met mainly cold shoulders of the Taiwan authorities led by the "independence"-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

The dogged pursuit of "independence" of Taiwan authorities at the cost of people's interests has been criticized strongly by the mainland, Taiwan and the international community.

Outgoing Taiwan "Premier" Frank Hsieh issued a warning to Chen Shui-bian on Monday that his policies were not in line with the wishes of the island's people.

"It's only reasonable that policies should have the support of over 75 percent of the people. But it doesn't appear that's the way it is now," Hsieh said.

In Monday's interview with Xinhua, He Shizhong said the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council will continue to implement existing guidelines and polices on pushing forward economic exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan.

"We will concretely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan business people and advance comprehensive cross-Straits economic exchanges," he said.

During an inspection of East China's Fujian Province from Jan. 12 to 16, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the mainland will create better conditions to support and encourage Taiwan businesses to invest in the mainland.

He welcomed the Taiwan compatriots to participate in the construction activities of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and pledged support to non-governmental organizations to hold talks on launching more regular cross-Straits flights as soon as possible.

He also called for the promotion of cultural exchanges across the Straits and more exchanges between young people.

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