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Lien Urges Taiwan Authorities to Negotiate Closer Ties
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Kuomintang (KMT) Honorary Chairman Lien Chan delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 3rd Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 28, 2007. The forum kicked off on Saturday.

Kuomintang (KMT) Honorary Chairman Lien Chan on Saturday urged Taiwan authorities to stop cutting the island off from the mainland and open negotiations to boost cross-Straits ties.

While the mainland has opened to the entire world, Taiwan authorities continue to restrict the island's access to the huge mainland market, said Lien at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Cultural forum being held in Beijing.

"This has caused great damage to Taiwan," Lien said.

Taiwan can only pursue its development through extensive exchanges and cooperation with the mainland, he noted.

The Taiwan authorities' secessionist agenda has fettered cross-Straits ties, he said.
Since February, Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has launched a series of "de-sinicizing" moves, trying to break the island's cultural links with the mainland.

The "de-sinicizing" moves involved removing the words "China" or "Chinese" from the Taiwan's "government-run" organizations, enterprises and from certain laws and regulations.

"These policies can only cloud Taiwan's future. They will not help the island improve its business competitiveness, nor enhance the well-being of Taiwan people," Lien said.

He said that Taiwan authorities should open negotiations to help solve the people's practical problems.

Direct flights across the Straits are listed as a key issues on the agenda of the forum.

"Direct flights can benefit Taiwan people by saving time, energy and cost and improving efficiency. It will not only meet the demands of people on both sides of the Straits, but also respond to appeals by international organizations," Lien said.

According to him, the American Institute in Taiwan has encouraged Taiwan to boost cooperation with the Chinese mainland and warned it of the risk of being excluded from regional economic integration if it fails to do so.

Representatives from the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry also warned that 15 large European companies may withdraw investment from the island if Taiwan authorities continue to refuse the three "direct-links" -- mail, trade and transport -- with the mainland, he said.

Lien also urged Taiwan authorities to open the island to mainland travelers, saying travel will boost cultural exchanges and generate huge business.

The mainland may also benefit economically by making the most of Taiwan's resources.

"A win-win balance is always our top goal. I believe that reconciliation, harmony, peace, mutual assistance and common prosperity can all be gradually achieved between the two sides in a balanced way," he said.

The mainland is now Taiwan's largest trade partner, biggest export destination and third largest source of imports. Taiwan is the mainland's seventh biggest trade partner, seventh export destination and fifth largest source of imports.

(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2007)

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