The cross-Straits economic and trade forum, a major event in exchanges between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, opened Friday morning in Beijing.
Senior Chinese leader Jia Qinglin and honorary chairman of the KMT Lien Chan made speeches at the opening ceremony, both calling for making joint efforts for win-win economic cooperation to benefit compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
"It has become the common aspiration of compatriots of both sides and the universal expectation of the international community to promote peaceful and steady development of cross-Straits relations," said Jia Qinglin, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee
For that purpose, said Jia, it's important to concretely start with beefing up cross-Straits economic exchanges and cooperation, which conforms to the common interest of compatriots on both sides.
Jia, who is also chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, called for removing artificially installed obstacles and political intervention to continuously push forward the frontiers of cross-Straits economic exchanges and cooperation.
Jia proposed adopting practical and flexible measures to push forward direct air and sea links, first starting with mainland-bound Taiwan agricultural goods and then expanding to more areas.
He said the mainland and Taiwan could also strengthen division of labor and cooperation in IT, photoelectricity, biological and agricultural industries and jointly create independent technological standards and international brands of the Chinese people.
Speaking of cooperation mechanism, Jia proposed adopting flexible practices of promoting region to region, people to people, industry to industry and business to business cooperation.
Jia called for beefing up dialogue, mutual trust and pooling wisdom through the cross-Straits economic and trade forum, adding forums on culture exchanges and on peaceful development could also be held to discuss other issues of concern to Taiwan compatriots.
Jia noted the risk and danger of Taiwan leader attempting to seek "de jure independence" of Taiwan through constitutional reform is escalating and said to safeguard the fundamental interests of compatriots of both sides of the Strait, "We will never tolerate 'Taiwan independence'".
Lien Chan said the booming trade across the Taiwan Straits had played a key role in Taiwan's economic growth over the past six years. Meanwhile, Taiwan's economy has lost some good opportunities because of restriction of cross-Straits economic and trade cooperation, imposed by the Taiwan authorities.
The opening of the mainland market helped Taiwan maintain an annual economic growth of 3.57 percent in the past six years despite dwindling demand and declining consumption on the island, said Lien.
He said the development of the Chinese mainland should not be demonized or smeared, or regarded it as a threat. The mainland provides market for countries like the United States and Japan, which helps them to raise production efficiency and people's purchasing power, relieve their deficit or economic stress, and channel their investment into high value-added industries.
Lien criticized Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party for its political policy that has severely conflicted with the public demand to push forward Taiwan's economic development.
"This makes Taiwan lose the momentum of further economic growth," he said.
Regional economic cooperation and the rise of China are two inevitable trends, said Lien. In the face of the trends, people should seriously think over the development road of Taiwan's economy and push forward cross-Straits economic and trade relations to avoid being marginalized in regional economic integration in Asia.
The two-day forum, jointly organized by institutions under the CPC and the KMT, is part of the effort to implement consensus reached during the historic meeting last April between General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Hu Jintao and Lien Chan, who was KMT Chairman at that time. The current session focuses on cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges and direct transport links.
More than 500 people, including officials from the CPC, KMT, People First Party and New Party and economic experts and businesspeople, attended the forum.
The event attracted much media attention as more than 400 reporters from over 120 news organizations are in Beijing to cover the forum.
(Xinhua News Agency April 15, 2006)