IV. Relations Across Taiwan Straits:
Evolution and Stumbling Blocks
The present division between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is a misfortune for the Chinese nation. All the Chinese people are yearning for an early end to this agonizing situation.
In order to enable normal movement of people across the Straits and to achieve reunification of the country, the Chinese Government has made proposals towards this end and, at the same time, adopted measures to step up the development of inter-Straits relations.
On the political plane, policy adjustments have been made with a view to breaking down the mentality of hostility. The Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate have decided respectively that people who had gone to Taiwan would no longer be prosecuted for offenses prior to the founding of the People's Republic of China.
On the military plane, initiatives have been taken to ease military confrontation across the Straits. Shelling of Jinmen and other islands have been discontinued. Some forward defense positions and observation posts along the Fujian coast have been transformed into economic development zones or tourist attractions.
On the economic plane, doors have been flung open to facilitate the flow of goods and people. Businessmen from Taiwan are welcome to invest or trade on the mainland. They are accorded preferential treatment and legal safeguards.
The Chinese Government has also adopted a positive attitude and taken measures to encourage bilateral exchanges and cooperation in areas such as two-way travels, post and communications as well as scientific, cultural, sports, academic and journalistic activities. A non-governmental Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has been set up and authorized by the Government to liaise with the Straits Exchange Foundation and other relevant non-governmental bodies in Taiwan for the purpose of upholding the legitimate rights and interests of people on both sides and promoting inter-Straits relations.
Such policies and measures of the Chinese Government have won the understanding and support of more and more Taiwan compatriots, compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao as well as overseas Chinese and people of Chinese descent. On their part, Taiwan compatriots have contributed tremendously to the development of inter-Straits relations. In recent years the Taiwan authorities have in turn made readjustments in their policy regarding the mainland. They have taken steps to ease the situation, such as allowing people to visit relatives on the mainland, gradually reducing the restrictions on people-to-people exchanges and contact, expanding indirect trade, permitting indirect investment and cutting red tape in inter-Straits post, telecommunications and bank remittance services. All these are conducive to better interchanges. The past few years have witnessed rapid growth of economic relations and trade as well as increasing mutual visits and sundry exchanges across the Straits. The Wang Daohan--Koo Chen-fu Talks in April 1993 resulted in four agreements, marking a step forward of historic significance in inter-Straits relations. Thus an atmosphere of relaxation prevails in the Taiwan Straits for the first time in the past four decades. This is auspicious to peaceful reunification.
It should be pointed out that notwithstanding a certain measure of easing up by the Taiwan authorities, their current policy vis-a-vis the mainland still seriously impedes the development of relations across the Straits as well as the reunification of the country. They talk about the necessity of a reunified China, but their deeds are always a far cry from the principle of one China. They try to prolong Taiwan's separation from the mainland and refuse to hold talks on peaceful reunification. They have even set up barriers to curb the further development of the interchanges across the Straits.
In recent years the clamours for "Taiwan independence" on the island have become shriller, casting a shadow over the course of relations across the Straits and the prospect of peaceful reunification of the country. The "Taiwan independence" fallacy has a complex social-historical root and international background. But the Taiwan authorities have, in effect, abetted this fallacy by its own policy of rejecting peace negotiations, restricting interchanges across the Straits and lobbying for "dual recognition" or "two Chinas" in the international arena. It should be affirmed that the desire of Taiwan compatriots to run the affairs of the island as masters of their own house is reasonable and justified. This should by no means be construed as advocating "Taiwan independence". They are radically distinct from those handful of "Taiwan independence" protagonists who trumpet "independence" but vilely rely on foreign patronage in a vain attempt to detach Taiwan from China, which runs against the fundamental interests of the entire Chinese people including Taiwan compatriots. The Chinese Government is closely following the course of events and will never condone any manoeuvre for "Taiwan independence".
Certain foreign forces who do not want to see a reunified China have gone out of their way to meddle in China's internal affairs. They support the anti-Communist stance of the Taiwan authorities of rejecting peace talks and abet the secessionists on the island, thereby erecting barriers to China's peaceful reunification and seriously wounding the national feelings of the Chinese people.
The Chinese Government is convinced that Taiwan compatriots want national reunification and that this is also true with most of the political forces in or out of office in Taiwan. The people on both sides of the Straits will overcome all the barriers and stumbling blocks by their joint efforts and ensure a better development of relations across the Straits.