Push Direct Straits Links

Two pro-reunification party delegations from Taiwan arrived in Beijing Thursday afternoon as part of a major effort to push ahead with three direct links between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits.

The two separate delegations, consisting of lawmakers from the Kuomintang Party and New Party and business leaders, are planning to hold talks with mainland officials on the issue during their stay in Beijing.

The move follows the formal start of the mini-three links when the first ships to sail from Taiwan to the mainland arrived at a port in Xiamen, in southeast China's Fujian Province, on Tuesday.

The plan, which was finally given the green light by Taiwan authorities in November last year, will open up direct commercial, shipping and communications links between the outlying Taiwanese islands of Jinmen and Matsu and the port cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou in Fujian.

Taipei has imposed a ban for decades on trade, transport and postal links -- dubbed the "three links" -- between Taiwan and the mainland.

But only Taiwanese vessels can ferry passengers and goods between these islands and the Fujian cities while mainland ships remain barred from docking at Jinmen and Matsu.

Both the Kuomintang Party, the former ruling party, and the New Party have been critical of the unilateral arrangement.

Fung Hu-hsiang of the New Party reportedly said it would hit snags unless Taipei enters into talks with Beijing.

"It's one-way and not two-way traffic," Fung was once quoted as saying.

The two parties have been urging Taiwan authorities to lift the ban on trade and transport links between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland fully and completely.

The 21-strong New Party delegation is led by Fung Hu-hsiang. Kuomintang Party heavyweight Her Zyh-huei reportedly leads the 29-member delegation.

They arrived at Beijing International Airport by way of Hong Kong.

A spokesman with the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) said Thursday that the two delegations will hold separate talks Friday with related departments of the organization to exchange views about the three direct links.

They are scheduled to visit the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the Ministry of Information Industry tomorrow , according to the spokesman.

Vice-Premier Qian Qichen is scheduled to meet separately with the two delegations during their two-day visit in Beijing.

The Kuomintang Party delegation will leave for Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China. And the New Party delegation plans to visit Shanghai and Guangzhou from Monday.

(China Daily 01/05/2000)

In This Series

Chen Shui-tsai: Wider Links with the Mainland

First Ships from Taiwan Arrive in Xiamen



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