Business leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Straits have stepped up pressure on Taipei to lift its decades-old ban on the three direct links between the island and the mainland.
They stressed that an early realization of cross-Straits commercial, transportation and postal services will economically and politically benefit the two sides.
Liu Chuanzhi, president of Legend Group Holdings Ltd, said the absence of the links has been the biggest stumbling block to deepening cooperation between business circles across the Straits.
"Too many opportunities for better cooperation between us and our Taiwan counterparts have been missed due to a lack of communication resulting from the ban on the three links," said Liu, also vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
He said that the three links would maximize the complementary role of the mainland and Taiwan economies.
Taiwan businessmen would be better placed to take advantage of the large potential market, cheap labor costs and huge talent pool on the mainland to boost their businesses, according to Liu.
Mainland enterprises would also benefit from Taiwan firms' advanced experience in management and the exploration of the international market.
"Opening up the three links would generate more opportunities for firms on both sides of the Straits to make joint efforts in tapping the overseas market," Liu told a press briefing yesterday.
Liu was speaking against the background that the two major opposition parties on the island, the Kuomintang and People First Party, are trying to push a cross-Straits transport bill through at the "Legislative Yuan," Taiwan's "parliament," to pave the way for the establishment of the links.
But the "Executive Yuan," Taiwan's executive body, is blocking these efforts while submitting its own version of the bill, in which the ban on cross-Straits links would be maintained.
Beijing has proposed to achieve the realization of the three links through people-to-people, industry-to-industry and company-to-company consultations. But the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has so far failed to respond positively.
Chen Sheng-tien, chairman of Sampo Group, Taiwan's top home appliance-maker, said on Wednesday that Taiwan's competitive edge would be greatly weakened if the ban on the three links is not scrapped.
"The longer the implementation of the three links is delayed, the worse Taiwan's economy will get," said Chen, who was one of the first Taiwan businessmen to invest on the mainland.
He cited the withdrawal of investment and transfer of overseas headquarters by some multi-nationals from the island due to the absence of cross-Straits links.
(China Daily October 18, 2002)