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Cross-Straits Links Are Domestic Affairs, Spokesman Says
Beijing yesterday insisted that future sea and air routes across the Taiwan Straits should be regarded as domestic transportation routes once the three direct links are put in place.

This definition conforms to the mainland's principle that the three cross-Straits links are internal affairs within one country, said Li Weiyi, spokesman with the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office.

The mainland has said that, provided that cross-Straits trade, transportation and mail services are viewed as domestic affairs, they can be implemented at an early date through people-to-people, industry-to-industry and company-to-company consultation.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, however, criticized Beijing for setting preconditions by defining the three links as an internal matter.

But Li reiterated that the definition stems from the indisputable fact that there is only one China in the world and that both Taiwan and the mainland are part of China.

"For a very long time, both sides of the Taiwan Straits had no dispute on the issue," he told a regular press conference in Beijing yesterday.

The official indicated that it is the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration headed by Chen Shui-bian that has refused to accept this with the aim of creating "two Chinas" or "one China and one Taiwan."

Li went on to say that regarding cross-Straits transportation routes as domestic ones will also help better safeguard the rights and interests of individuals, businesses in general and transport companies in particular on both sides.

"Foreign capital will be excluded from the cross-Straits transport market if these links are regarded as domestic routes," Li said.

In line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, any coastal state can reserve for domestic firms the exclusive right to operate its coastal transportation, trade and fishing industries.

Li also said Taiwan's DPP is welcome to send a delegation to visit the Chinese mainland as soon as it abandons its "Taiwan Independence" program.

Li said that except for a tiny minority of die-hard DPP proponents of "Taiwan Independence," the mainland welcomes the vast majority of DPP members to come for a visit in an "appropriate capacity" so as to boost mutual understanding.

But he stressed that unless the DPP completely abandons its "Taiwan Independence" program, the mainland would not engage in any contact with any DPP departments or organizations.

Li also said Beijing resolutely opposes Taiwan's proposal to set up a free-trade zone with the United States.

"The Chinese Government does not object to Taiwan maintaining non-governmental economic and cultural exchanges with foreign countries," he said.

"But we do oppose the establishment of any official relations and official contacts between Taiwan and countries that have established diplomatic ties with China."

Taipei has reportedly proposed the free-trade zone to counter Beijing's plan to establish such a zone between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations within 10 years.

The island reportedly fears that it may be isolated or marginalized in the Asia-Pacific region, given the Chinese mainland's fast economic development and growing influence.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2002)

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