All letters and parcels stamped with a "UN for Taiwan" postmark have been returned to the island, a senior mainland official said yesterday.
"The island authorities preaching 'Taiwan independence' through the postal service is an infringement on compatriots' freedom," Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, told a regular press briefing yesterday.
"This has seriously hampered the exchange of letters between people on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits as well as Taiwan people's exchanges with other parts of the world," she said.
Ignoring strong condemnation from both the mainland and the international community, the secessionists forces on the island led by Chen Shui-bian have been pushing for a referendum on UN membership under the name of Taiwan, which is considered a step toward formal "independence".
In the latest push toward "Taiwan independence", the island's post office started using the "UN for Taiwan" postmark on outgoing mail six weeks ago.
The Taiwan authorities must shoulder all the consequences from the incident, said Fan, who made her debut as the first spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office.
The postal move has triggered increasing protests from Taiwan residents as a violation of their freedom of speech and distortion of their free will.
Many Taiwan businessmen have complained that their businesses have been affected by the postmark, which interrupted postal exchanges across the Straits.
Fan, who used to be a senior reporter for the Xinhua News Agency and was once stationed in Taiwan, also said the mainland plans to resume shipments of natural sand to Taiwan.
The mainland halted exports in March as excessive exploitation of the sand in some river beds caused ecological damage. The sand is widely used in construction and about 90 percent used in Taiwan is from the mainland.
"Out of consideration for Taiwan... the mainland is considering resuming sand exports to the island," Fan said.
Tang Wei, a Ministry of Commerce (MOC) official who is in charge of trade affairs between the mainland and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, said: "The concerned department is negotiating with non-governmental organizations in Taiwan on exports. We hope the sand shortage in Taiwan is eased as soon as possible."
A "proper annual volume" that does not harm resources will be exported; and the export volume will be reduced annually, said Liang Shuhe, director of MOC's external trade department.
The mainland hopes that Taiwan importers promise not to sell the sand to other countries or regions, Liang added.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2007)