Taiwan pressure on strait standoff
A SENIOR Taiwanese official has put pressure on Beijing to make more concessions to help solve the standoff across the Taiwan Strait, arguing that the convening of the historic ''Koo-Wang summit'' had made no change to their policy.
Despite the talks in Singapore last month between Mr Koo Chen-fu and Mr Wang Daohan, top representatives from Taipei and Beijing, Mrs Yeh Chin-fong, a vice-chairman of the cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), said it had made no impact on their mainland policy, although several agreements on cross-strait matters had been signed.
She said yesterday they would stick to the policy of allowing only unofficial contact across the strait, and that Hongkong would still play an important intermediary role.
Mrs Yeh said Beijing remained hostile and insincere because it had yet to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, and that it had scuttled Taiwan's participation in international bodies and refused to accept the island as an ''equal political entity''.
Conceding that people-to-people contact across the strait had increased sharply in the past few years, she said Beijing had not worked hard enough to remove the obstacles for official exchanges.
''I cannot tell when the two sides will be able to develop official contacts. It depends on them,'' she said.
Mrs Yeh said Taipei was opposed to direct links in trade, mail and transport, including ''small-scale direct links'' as recently suggested by mainland officials.
Taiwan officials maintained direct transport hinged upon technical issues such as flag, air route, landing rights and compensation, which inevitably would touch upon political issues.
On relations with Hongkong, Mrs Yeh said a special law governing links with Hongkong after 1997 should be enacted in four years.
She stressed it would be unfair to Hongkong people if they were treated the same as mainlanders after 1997.
Head of the MAC's Department of Hongkong and Macau Affairs, Mr William Li, said its policy towards the two enclaves had become clearer as mutual links had multiplied in recent years.
He stressed they would strive to promote co-operation with the two places in economy, trade and cultural matters through non-governmental bodies.
Mr Li cited the visit of a group of Hongkong left-wing and right-wing unionists included a pro-Beijing union leader, Mr Tam Yiu-chung, to exchange views with the Taiwan counterpart on labour matters.
A deputy secretary-general of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, Mr Shih Chi-ping, said Hongkong would still be a vital third place for unofficial contacts across the strait.
This is despite the two sides deciding to convene the ''Koo-Wang talks'' in Singapore last month.
Mr Shih said former Singaporean Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had played a crucial role in deciding the talks be held in Singapore.