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Economic talks can help bridge cross-strait gulf, president says


2005-07-01 / Central News Agency /

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait could consult more with each other over economic matters, a move that would increase mutual trust and create conditions for political reconciliation.

"Insisting on cross-strait rapprochement" was one of three "insistences" that he said were his government's top priorities. The other two were insisting on constitutional reform and insisting on fairness and justice.

Chen made the statements while speaking at the opening ceremony of an Executive Yuan training session attended by officials groomed for future promotions. One session was dedicated to training women.

He said there is little likelihood of a breakthrough in cross-strait political relations. However, improvements can be made in economic affairs such as direct flights of cargo airplanes, opening up Taiwan's tourism market to Chinese visitors, and fishery and agricultural cooperation, he added.

If the governments on the two sides of the Strait can talk about expanding current exchanges and thereby accumulate mutual trust, it will create favorable conditions for eventual political reconciliation, he said.

The president pointed out that exchanges between people on both sides of the Strait have developed into "extremely close" ties that will be "highly valuable and significant" for the development of bilateral relations.

He hoped efforts will be made to resume cross-strait dialogue because, he said, only through dialogue can both side narrow their gap and lay a solid foundation for building mutual confidence.

While seeking dialogue and rapprochement with China, he stressed that the government will never change its "pragmatic and rational" policy of upholding Taiwan's national sovereignty and insisting on Taiwan's national identity.

Chen went on to say that since the first-phase of constitutional reform has been completed, the second phase will deal with such critical issues as adopting a three-branch or five-branch government, and choosing a presidential or cabinet system.

Elaborating on his idea of reform, he said the country should insist on rectifying all political, judicial, educational, financial, social and media abnormalities.

"This is what the people have been expecting, and this will enable our next generation to live in a 'fair and just new Taiwan' where social justice, economic justice, judicial justice, sexual justice and international justice will prevail," he said.