Jia Qinglin, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), 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.
China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Saturday called for further efforts to improve direct transport services between the mainland and Taiwan.
Jia said the mainland hopes civil aviation and shipping organizations across the Taiwan Straits will pursue consultations on the issue.
Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remark in a speech at the opening ceremony of a cross-Straits forum on economic, trade and cultural exchanges.
Direct transport links between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan were cut off after the civil war in the late 1940s.
After years of negotiations, progress has been made in re-establishing direct transportation between the mainland and Taiwan.
In 2001, Fujian Province opened a direct ferry service with Jinmen and Mazu in Taiwan. In 2006, a third direct shipping route was opened between Fujian's Quanzhou and Jinmen.
In 2005, airline companies on the mainland and in Taiwan began operating non-stop charter flights across the Taiwan Straits for major traditional Chinese holidays.
Jia said passengers, airline companies and the economy all stood to gain from weekend and regular charter flights. He called on civil aviation organizations across the Straits to look for solutions as soon as possible.
He also expressed the hope that directs shipping routes operated between Fujian's coastal cities and Jinmen and Mazu would be expanded to other ports across the Taiwan Straits.
Jia, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, also urged Taiwan authorities to make positive efforts to promote tourism and allow mainland tourists to visit Taiwan.
The Chinese mainland removed the travel ban on mainland residents to Taiwan in May 2005, in order to expand people-to-people contacts and help boost Taiwan's tourism industry.
Since October 2006, non-governmental tourism organizations on the mainland and in Taiwan have conducted five rounds of talks and reached consensus on major technical issues, but no final agreement has been reached.
Jia said he hoped the Taiwan authorities will "follow the will of the people and adopt a practical and positive attitude" in solving the remaining problems relating to cross-Straits travel.
"Mainland residents traveling to Taiwan are not taking country-to-country trips," he said.
"If Taiwan authorities sincerely support the consensus reached between the non-governmental tourism organizations on both sides of the straits, Taiwan routes for mainland tourists can soon be up and running," Jia said.
Jia also warned against the "escalating danger" of "Taiwan independence," saying it was "the most serious, dangerous and urgent problem threatening peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits."
He said the leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party, Taiwan's ruling party, insisted on the radical policy of "Taiwan independence" and kept provoking the mainland with secessionist remarks and activities.
Jia reiterated that the Chinese mainland will continue to show the greatest sincerity and exert the greatest efforts to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and achieve peaceful reunification.
"But we will never tolerate 'Taiwan independence.' And never will we allow anyone to separate Taiwan from China by any means," Jia said.
"We have the will, the capacity and the resources to contain 'Taiwan independence' as well as any serious 'Taiwan independence' incidents," Jia said.
Jia recalled the landmark meeting between CPC Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao and then Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chanin April 2005, saying that the consensus of peaceful development they reached reflects the common aspiration of people across the Straits.
To achieve this aspiration, Jia said compatriots across the Straits should stand firmly against "Taiwan independence."
Also on Saturday, KMT Honorary Chairman Lien Chan urged Taiwan authorities to open negotiations to boost cross-Straits ties.
He said the Democratic Progressive Party is seeking "political confrontation, economic confinement and military competition" in handling cross-Straits relations.
He said the ruling party is also trying to cut Taiwan off from Chinese culture and the Chinese nation, which has caused social conflict, party confrontation and public confusion.
Such moves have also undermined Taiwan's economy, weakened Taiwan's competitiveness, harmed Taiwan people's interests and seriously affected peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, Lien said.
He said Taiwan and the mainland should sign a peace agreement through negotiations based on the principle of the "1992 Consensus."
The "1992 Consensus" struck by the CPC and the then-incumbent KMT endorses the one-China principle.
About 500 participants from the mainland and Taiwan are attending the current cross-Straits forum, jointly hosted by the CPC and the KMT.
Participants will exchange views on issues including direct flights across the Taiwan Straits and educational and tourism cooperation.
Hu Jintao met with Lien Chan before the two-day forum started Saturday morning at the Great Hall of the People.
(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2007)