Beijing stands firm on Taiwan
By CHRIS YEUNG
A TOP Chinese official in charge of Taiwan affairs says China is firmly opposed to any form of independence for Taiwan in spite of the ''major development'' in cross-strait relations in the past year.
Wang Zhaoguo, head of the two Taiwan Affairs Offices under the Communist Party and the State Council, was speaking at the closing of a directors' meeting of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) in Beijing yesterday.
''We are firmly opposed to any form of 'two Chinas', 'one China, one Taiwan', or 'two political entities with equal footing'. We are resolutely against any deeds and words to create 'Taiwan independence','' he was quoted as saying by official news agencyreports.
The senior official said ARATS should continue to facilitate greater non-governmental links and co-operation with its Taiwan counterpart this year.
But he warned against moves by the Taiwan authorities to create ''independent sovereignty'' and ''equal power of legal jurisdiction'' during the deliberation on practical matters.
In another address, ARATS chairman, Wang Daohan urged Taiwan to separate politics and the issue of repatriating hijackers to halt air piracy.
According to the China News Service (CNS), Mr Wang said the repatriation of hijackers was ''complicated'' by Taiwan's insistence on its right to exercise legal jurisdiction over the hijackers on the island.
''By mixing political issues, such as the power of legal jurisdiction, with procedural matters, it makes it difficult to solve the procedural matters,'' he said.
Mr Wang insisted that hijacking was a criminal offence and should fall within the Quemoy agreement which covers repatriation of cross-strait criminals.
Like other criminals, hijackers should be sent back in accordance with the deal, he said.
Taiwan, however, argued that hijackers should face trial in Taiwanese courts.
A record 10 hijacking incidents occurred last year, straining ties between the sides despite progress in unofficial exchanges between ARATS and its Taiwanese counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
Mr Wang claimed that the ''leniency'' shown to hijackers was the main cause of last year's spate of hijackings.
He dismissed as groundless Taiwanese newspaper reports that the Chinese Government would deploy jet fighters to intercept aircraft being hijacked, even if they had already entered Taiwan's airspace.
The ARATS head said Beijing was willing to discuss ''political issues'' with Taipei at any time.
Unofficial talks on cross-strait matters have been speeded up following the meeting between Mr Wang and Koo Chen-foo, the SEF chief, in Singapore last May.
Mr Wang said he was hoping for an early second round of talks.