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Taiwan: Don't test Beijing's resolve
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-29 00:52

A senior Taiwan affairs official said Wednesday that Beijing will not tolerate "Taiwan independence" just for the sake of the mainland's economic development.

Wang Zaixi, vice-minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, stressed the mainland aims to fight and contain any separatist activities.

The development of pro-independence forces on the island is not only the biggest threat to cross-Straits peace and stability but can ultimately hurt the economic growth of the mainland and Taiwan.

Ships and boats carrying personnel and equipment sail off braving gunfire from 'enemy forces' during a military drill on Saturday in the coast of Zhangzhou, East China's Fujian Province. [newsphoto]

At present, separatist forces are the biggest hurdle to cross-Straits economic and trade relations, Wang noted.

"So it is extremely dangerous for the Taiwan authorities to obstinately walk along the separtist road and mistakenly think the mainland will tolerate pro-independence activities for the benefit of its economic development and the 2008 Olympic Games," he said.

The vice-minister made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a two-day seminar organized by the Across-Straits Relations Research Centre in the capital city of Zhejiang Province.

More than 200 business leaders, economists and researchers on cross-Straits studies from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and the United States attended the event focusing on cross-Straits trade and economic exchanges and its impact on bilateral ties.

The seminar was the largest cross-Straits exchange programme since Chen Shui-bian of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party won the "presidential" elections in March.

Wang told the meeting that the mainland will continue to encourage closer economic co-operation across the Straits despite the current political tension.

He also reiterated that Beijing is ready to start talks over the establishment of the three direct links across the straits -- trade, transport and postal services -- as long as Taipei agrees to define them as "internal affairs within one country."

Taiwan business people are welcome to invest in the mainland and their legitimate interests and rights will be protected in line with law, Wang added.

The official, however, did caution that Beijing will not allow a handful of people to support "Taiwan independence" on the island while reaping economic benefits from their mainland businesses.

Earlier, Taiwanese tycoon Hsu Wen-lung, founder of the Chi Mei Group, was sharply criticized for using profits from his mainland enterprises to fund pro-independence politicians including Chen.

Most participants at the seminar agreed it is an inevitable trend for Taiwan and the mainland to accelerate their economic integration, given the highly complementary nature of the two economies.

But the close economic relationship will be endangered if Chen sticks to a pro-independence stance and pushes for formal independence of the island, they said.

By the end of May this year, the number of Taiwanese-funded projects on the mainland had reached 62,000, with contract investment of US$73 billion.

Meanwhile, cross-Straits trade volume amounted to US$58.6 billion last year, with the mainland being Taiwan's biggest export market and largest source of trade surplus.

The figure jumped by 40 per cent year on year to nearly US$30 billion in the first five months of this year.

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