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Ongoing efforts to build links with Taiwan
Updated: 2006-01-25 09:33

A Chinese mainland official Tuesday asked Taiwan authorities to recognize Taiwan compatriots' long-held desire to have pandas in Taiwan and not to obstruct their entry.

He also asked Taiwan authorities to remove all sorts of obstacles to exchanges across the Taiwan Straits.

"I hope the Taiwan authorities won't do anything that runs counter to the wishes of Taiwan compatriots," said Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, at a press conference.

The mainland announced on May 3 last year it would donate a couple of giant pandas to Taiwan compatriots. The general public in Taiwan were delighted with the news and eager to see the pandas in Taiwan as early as possible.

People in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and overseas have taken part in choosing names for the pandas, the results of which will be announced on television on Chinese Lunar New Year's Day.

However, Taiwan authorities led by the "independence"-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have so far used a variety of excuses to obstruct the pandas' entry for fear they would further boost affinities between people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.

Despite obstruction by the Taiwan authorities, relations between the people across the Straits have become closer thanks to fast growing economic exchanges and cooperation.

"The mainland is Taiwan's No. 1 export market and its largest trade surplus source, while Taiwan is the mainland's second largest import market," said He Shizhong, director of the economic bureau of the Taiwan Affairs Office.

In addition, a total of 68,095 Taiwan-funded projects had been approved by the mainland by the end of 2005.

The links were further strengthened by meetings between Chinese President Hu Jintao, former Kuomintang leader Lien Chan, People First Party Chairman James Soong and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming last year.

During the meetings, the political leaders reached a consensus on boosting affinities between Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, who have experienced estrangement since the end of the civil war in 1949, and working jointly for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

"It is increasingly clear that further boosting cross-Strait economic and trade relations, promoting exchanges of visits and pushing forward cross-Strait relations in the direction of peace and stability are common aspirations of compatriots on both sides," said Li Weiyi.

"We hope the Taiwan authorities are in tune with the trend of the times and the wishes of the people," he said. "They should not take actions that run counter to the wishes and interests of Taiwan compatriots."

He asked the Taiwan authorities to remove obstacles to realizing direct mail, transport and trade links with the mainland"if they really care for the interests of Taiwan compatriots and Taiwan's economic development."

Taiwan authorities have been reluctant to open the three direct links citing security and other unfounded reasons.

Li said the mainland will continue to oppose and curb "Taiwan independence" secessionist activities and push forward personnel, economic and cultural exchanges to advance cross-Straits relations towards peace and stability and advance the peaceful reunification of China.

He said the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games will fully consider Taiwan compatriots wish to take part in the Olympic torch relay so that they can "share the joy and glory of the sacred Olympic flame."

The mainland welcomes the participation of Taiwan compatriots in the construction of stadiums for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and other related activities, said Li, adding that Taiwan athletes are welcome to compete in the games and Taiwan compatriots are welcome to serve as volunteers during the Games.

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